B.C. Hydro blames heat pumps, not smart meters, for bill spikes

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      Heat pumps may be causing recent spikes in utility bills, according to the customer-care director at B.C. Hydro.

      “I don’t know the technical side of it, but I know we have seen issues where people have called electricians out to investigate some of the internal componentry of their heat pumps, or some of the working pieces,” Jim Nicholson told the Straight by phone. “And I think that we’ve had the odd occasion where people have had a problem with their heat pumps. It’s not the actual wiring…it’s something within the heat pump itself.”

      Nicholson said anyone with a heat pump who’s concerned about a spike in utility bills should “get it inspected”.

      Vancouver Island resident Maureen Loucks did exactly that after she began to see bill spikes at a restaurant she cofounded almost 30 years ago in Cedar, near Nanaimo. Loucks told the Straight last month that her ground-source pump works fine. Instead, she blames the spikes on a recently installed, wireless smart meter, which replaced the analogue meter at the Mahle House Restaurant last November.

      “It can only be one thing,” Loucks told the Straight. “All other logical things have been checked out.”

      According to Loucks, her most recent bimonthly bill was $1,084, and her bill for the period December 14, 2011, to February 13, 2012, was $1,192. But the bill before those two, for October 15 to December 13 of last year, was $532.

      Nicholson disagreed with Loucks’s analysis, but said the utility has sent a field-service representative to conduct a breaker test at Mahle House, and has checked over the recent consumption history at the restaurant.

      “That’s what we’re finding in a lot of cases,” Nicholson said. “It’s not the smart meter; it’s basically their consumption pattern in the past has been fairly consistent with what they’re seeing now. And in this particular case, we’re not exactly sure why [a problem exists].”

      Nicholson also said he has a hunch the problem could be an “outlier” analogue meter that is not working properly, and that was not caught as part of the utility’s annual obligation under Measurement Canada guidelines to pull 40,000 regular meters and test them.



      jonny .

      Jun 6, 2012 at 5:40pm

      buy a device that records the amount of power used. BC Hydro will never admit a problem with their "smart" meters.

      Ron S.

      Jun 6, 2012 at 8:46pm

      No way it could be the new "smart" meters. What about the heat pumps before the smart meters? What changes? Absolutely nothing except the "smart" meter.

      glen p robbins

      Jun 6, 2012 at 9:53pm

      Happy to know we identified this scam in 2007 in poll of Victorians who did not want it. Major scam.


      Jun 6, 2012 at 10:23pm

      So let me get this straight: Someone relies on electricity for heat, and their bill goes up when the weather turns cold? My gosh, I can't imagine how that could happen. I mean, it's not like my bill hasn't done that very thing every year I can remember.

      Comparing electricity usage from mid-December to mid-April to that from mid-October to mid-December is hardly reasonable. The average temperature in October was still well into the double digits. From November through April it was well below 10C. That makes a significant difference in your heating costs, regardless of what you use.

      Taxpayers R Us

      Jun 6, 2012 at 10:49pm

      BC Hydro is starting to behave like one of Canada's telecoms. Just as defensive too, they point their fingers back at the victim knowing they're relying on junk science to earn their profits.

      Give it about 4 months and they'll be in line with ICBC, Translink, and BC Ferries.

      Plum Duff

      Jun 6, 2012 at 11:06pm

      Morty- when you DON'T have electric heat, and your bill goes through the roof with the addition of a smart meter... your argument goes out the window.

      Just sayin'


      Jun 7, 2012 at 12:19am

      ...here's the skinny on these so called smart meters... You can read the daily KW consumption yourself... no rocket science needed there... keep a log. I do.

      Heat pumps are a small version of the 'on demand' electric hot water heaters that Hyro have banned under rate class 1101. Why? Because.... and hydro won't admit it but it's because they are unable to accurately measure the power consumed by these devices using the old analogue technology. Heat pumps have short duration pulsating consumption patterns of a very short duration that are difficult to accurately measure using the old technology....supposedly, the new digital and digital 'smart' meters can do this.

      They installed a new digital (not smart) meter and I used it to my advantage to reduce my hydro consumption by over 50%..thus becoming a bit of a Power Nazi... 'No Juice From You'

      #! power waster... the basement, crawl space or outside hot water tank... insulate it with a thermal blanket and insulate the pipes 3' from the tank and turn the temperature down to 140 or so...even turn down the bottom element more. BIG difference. If you go away for awhile turn it off at the switch box..

      Taxpayers R Us

      Jun 7, 2012 at 7:01am

      Heat pumps are damn efficient units; why Hydro would try and target one of those is anyone's guess.


      Jun 7, 2012 at 11:56am

      Astounding that BC Hydro reps have not been run out of town for their litany of deceit and deliberate lies.

      "Wired smart meters cost thirty five thousand dollars, each"

      Any small business owner would be in front of a judge by now, if they would conduct their business as unethical as BC Hydro.

      A full criminal investigation of BC Hydro and their representatives is long overdue.


      Jun 8, 2012 at 9:17pm

      It's come to the point that if Hydro says anything you know the chances are darn good it's not true. They twist everything about smart meters. I agree with Marcus, they should be before a judge for false advertising, misleading statement, deceit -- and the Lieberal bosses including our provincial medical officer should be there with them. No one is telling the truth about this entire program from costs to security to health. I second the motion for a full criminal investigation -- and follow the money!