This article is more than 4 years old.

Customers surprised Nova Scotia Power upgraded meters without permission

Two customers lost power for hours after meters were upgraded

4 min read
caption Kira Noble looks at her new smart meter.
Lesli Tathum

Kira Noble came home from work one day last fall to find the lights out and two dark silhouettes standing in the window of her Lower Sackville home.

She said the two men told her they were subcontracted by Nova Scotia Power (NSP) to install her smart meter, even though she never asked for one.

“I just felt very violated,” she said. “These men were in my home all day when no one was here.”

Nova Scotia Power is in the process of installing smart meters at 510,000 homes and businesses in the province. The standard meters require a NSP employee to manually read the data on the meter every two months.

Related stories

Customers are permitted to opt out by filling out a form online. If they don’t fill out the form, it will be assumed that the customer is allowing the upgrade, according to NSP.

Noble said NSP called her earlier that day to say they broke her meter while they were upgrading it, leaving her without power. She had no idea contractors were at her house.

In a phone call with the power company, Noble said she was told they needed to get into her home to turn off the main switch. They told her it would only take an hour, but they were still there when she got home that evening. A babysitter let them in.

Power wasn’t restored until midnight.

“Power is a luxury, I know. But when you are an elderly person or you have babies or whatever the case may be, it’s a big deal,” Noble said. “They need to schedule times and tell you what you might encounter.”

Project approved in 2018

The Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board approved the application by NSP for smart meters in July 2018. The project is estimated to cost up to $133 million and installation is free for customers.

The power utility subcontracted Tribus Services to install smart meters in Nova Scotia in April 2019. Tribus Services installed more than 25 million electric, gas and water smart meters around the United States and Canada, according to its website.

caption The new smart meters that Nova Scotia Power is installing.
Lesli Tathum

NSP spokesperson Patti Lewis said in an email to The Signal that the installation process began in the fall and will continue until 2021.

Lewis said all customers were notified ahead of the upgrades in the mail with their bill.

‘I didn’t have a clue’

Faye Hynes, another Lower Sackville resident, said she was without power for a few days in November after a storm ripped the electrical wires off her home. She said NSP agreed to upgrade her wiring and meter on March 3, 2020, and provided her with a temporary solution in the meantime.

On Jan. 7, she received a knock on her door. She said a man from NSP told her he was there to upgrade her meter.

“I didn’t have a clue of what he was doing here. I was never informed of the upgrade,” she said. “I told him I would rather him not touch it until the date that we previously agreed on.”

She uses budget billing — she receives her bill monthly, and said she never got the upgrade notification in the mail and didn’t know she could opt out of the upgrade.

“He told me ‘It has to be done. It’s imperative. We have to do it,’” Hynes said. She was told she’d lose power for only 15 minutes and then it would be restored.

Shortly after trying to install the smart meter, Hynes said he broke it. She said she was without power for 11 hours.

Lewis acknowledged NSP’s mistake.

“In this case, the upgrade should not have proceeded. We have apologized to the customer and confirmed our protocols with our technicians so the error doesn’t occur again,” she said in the email.

If a customer refuses this, including stopping a worker at their door, Nova Scotia Power cannot proceed, said Lewis.

More than 300 customers lose power

She said so far, about 2,400 out of 510,000 customers have made the decision to opt out of the smart meter program. Of all 36,317 customers that had smart meters installed, approximately 327 lost power for extended periods of time.

Smart meters use different technology; the device sends the power usage information through a wireless network to the company. The new technology will not officially turn on until 2021, when all meters have been upgraded.

Lewis said the homeowner will have access to all of the same data that NSP will get. She said another benefit is that if the power goes out, the meter will notify NSP and they can send someone out to fix it right away.

Those who choose to keep the traditional meter will be charged an additional fee for the manual readings.


Jan. 21, 2020: A previous version of this story misstated the number of customers who have decided to opt out of the smart meter program.

Share this

About the author

Lesli Tathum

Lesli is from the Cayman Islands. She is in her fourth year of journalism at the University of King's College and is a member of the King's Women's...

Have a story idea?

Join the conversation

  1. J

    Joanne Martell

    This is how they are getting around to making people choose the new meter - they are disgusting!! If you decide to opt-out from upgrading to a smart meter you will be selecting a non-standard meter service and will be charged a fee based on cost recovery for manual meter reading. This ensures these costs are not passed onto to all customers. These fees have been estimated as follows: Customers whose meters are currently read every two months will move to two reads per year and pay a fee of approximately $4 per month. Customers whose meters are currently read each month will continue to have monthly reads and pay a fee of approximately $22 per month. This calculation is subject to the review and approval of the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board (UARB). These fees are an estimate and will not be charged to customers until the smart meter upgrade is complete and approval is received from the UARB to begin charging fees. In order to opt-out, you are required to review and submit an acknowledgement form and a member of our Customer Care team will contact you to confirm your selection and next steps.
  2. P

    Patti Lewis

    Nova Scotia Power would like to correct errors in this story. Approximately 0.47% of our customers have opted out of receiving a smart meter. That represents approximately 2,400 customers. In addition to sharing smart meter information through our web site and bill inserts, customers are notified by mail at least two weeks before upgrades begins in communities. The majority of meter upgrades take less than 15 minutes to complete and result in a momentary loss of power. Customers who choose to opt out using the forms available on our web site should not receive a smart meter. We have reviewed our processes to ensure the correct protocols are followed. An extended power loss during an upgrade is rare and to date has occurred in approximately 300 of the nearly 40,000 upgrades we have completed. We’re very sorry for the inconvenience and have apologized to the impacted customers.
    • E

      End the monopoly for power!

      I was not contacted in Truro, NS until a person knocked on my door today and said he was installing it. Did not say I could opt out or decline, just it is being done. When I expressed concerns he just said "Oh you must listen to Social Media" and continued to install it banging on the outside wall of house for a few minutes. No notification through the mail as stated above. Hopefully the savings from not having a person will be passed on to the consumer. Oh wait another price increase.
  3. J


    Crappy article. Do real research. I've never been notified. Those numbers do not add up lol
  4. S

    Smarter Every Day

    There are a lot of tinfoil hatters in this province. Wonder if they know all electric motors create dirty electricity and make you rob liquor stores too! The gubbermint is reading your minds with this technology. If it’s electric it has a chip, hair dryer, yup, washer and dryer you better believe they have cameras in them too. If it plugs in the gubbermint has spy tech in it.
    • J


      Better to wear a tinfoil hat than a blindfold ;)
  5. J

    Joesph Starr

    As for Erma “Nova Scotia power they are as much as thieves as half the prisoners in our jail system and they get away with what ever they want . As of going Solar here in Nova Scotia they expect you here to pay for your power and they will by the power you produce . A pile of crap I must add , for blogs of building codes in California it’s a must that the new homes being built must have solar / wind power to operate the house hold for the power it will be demanding and nothing gets mentioned about the hydro company having there hands in ones pocket take from you . As for my opinion Nova Scotia power can go pound sand , as long as I have power in my home to operate off of no law out there says I have to buy there service and I will add time coming I will not use there services ever again. These pour people that lost power because of incompeted work man ship of outside company’s is so very sad , use Nova Scotians to perform the work that is here boost our economy . But wait that’s not how it works the hell with our people and economy .... thanks for the rant and sorry to here of the bad experience these pour people have incountered
Comments closed.