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BC Hydro's Smart Grid

On Monday February 20, Cindy Verschoor and Dave DeYagher of BC Hydro came to our Victoria Chapter meeting to talk about BC Hydro's Smart Grid, and the Smart Meters that make it possible.

Much of what they discussed is in the BC Hydro Smart Meter Business Plan, and their presentation is attached below.

We expected a crowd, so had pre-registration for this one meeting - our meetings are normally just drop-in. There were 51 people in the room, about half BCSEA members, including some from the Stop Smart Meters Coalition. 


Dave emphasised how the smart meters are just the first step in a 20 year revamp of the electrical system in the province, to network everything together, so that Hydro engineers will be able to check on the whole system, from the dam to the meter, from their control rooms. 

The meters will perform several functions: 

  • Monitor movement so that they give out an alarm if moved
  • Give a 'last gasp' alarm if the supply power shuts down 
  • Monitor voltage so they will give an alarm if it goes too high or low
  • Monitor the 'shape' of the electrical sine wave and alarm if it's out of range
  • Record power usage for each one-hour period, and send it back to the main servers three times/day
  • Turn the power on or off remotely 
  • Optionally, at customer request, send instantaneous power information to devices inside the customer premises which will not be monitored by BC Hydro

The power usage information from the meters will be compared with that of local transformers and switches so that discrepancies can be investigated. 

I learned that even though the current analog meters have been used for 50 years, they do wear out. BC Hydro replaces tens of thousands of the old meters each year. 

We covered a lot of ground at the meeting, including more about the grid and the back-end systems than shows in the presentation. The questions were penetrating, thoughtful, and generally well answered. Not everyone was satisfied with the discussion, but I felt it very worthwhile.  If I get more time I'll try to tell more of the story here.