Customers surprised Nova Scotia Power upgraded meters without permission

Two customers lost power for hours after meters were upgraded

This story contains a correction

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.

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.

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.

Correction: 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.

Lesli Tathum

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 Varsity Soccer team.

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27 comments

  1. 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. 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.

    1. 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. 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.

  4. 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

  5. Dear each and every (Extra)Ordinary Nova Scotia Citizens,

    To opt-out or to demand a return of your old analogue meter,
    Call NSPower and make your demands clearly known.
    If you are not on the internet, ask NS _Power to send you the necessary
    forms for the return of your old meter (good for 50 years) or to opt out, send
    your request and forms to NS Power, PO box 910, Halifax. In each case, ask for
    a return answer in writing to all your correspondence. Not just a phone call….
    Good Luck!!

    1. To any one who didn’t know this before:
      I have to call nspower in the event your electricity went out, if you don’t call, nspower doesn’t know it. They won’t send out anyone to restore the power. If you have smart meter, they would know when and where customers are out of power immediately.
      It doesn’t cost you a penny, though it’s your choise.

      1. It doesn’t cost me a penny to realize my power is out and to pickup the phone and report it… I would tend to think most people would be right on that – and, it will take just as long for repair as someone with a smart meter – it’s your choice – it’s your meter

  6. I’m from Port Alberni BC,and I fought with BC Hydro (which I call BC MAFIA) as that’s who they remind me of,for 3 years to keep my old analog meter. As it stands unless you have huge amounts of cash to buy solar and/or other forms of power we here in BC have to get our power from the Mafia. In the end they put a $2000 security deposit on my bill on top of a $1800 two month bill and when I paid the $1800 but refused to pay the extortion security deposit they cut me off and pulled my meter out and then when I had no choice but to pay the protection fee they came and put a smart meter in. Tried to fight em but can’t beat MONEY!!!! I’m also black listed in their computers as I threatened to harm their workers if they set foot on my property ever again without advance permission.

  7. I’d kindly suggest the author provide a link OPT OUT HERE in an article dealing with opting out. Did she ask about those who get their bills electronically and thus no mailed bill? Also why install from fall til spring when people may be without HEAT in winter? The teams that repair our lines every time someone passes gas out here in the boonies do a fabulous job, but why is NSP spending millions to do this instead of upgrading and maintaining lines instead of installing meters and putting people out of work (those who read meters). Power is not a luxury in a Nova Scotia winter. This is 2020 not 1920.

  8. Costs hundreds of millions of dollars but its free lol. The spy information these will yield will be worth billions. Police dont protect the public from these radiological devices, they salivate at obtaining the unlawfully obtained information on private citizens.

  9. First most of these are lies, as well as the people on the facebook group. Yes they are finding breaks that undo have know about for years.these technicians are not break your meter it’s been broke and they are discovering them. Two you can opt out for an extra fee and then there going to estimate your meter instead of reading it then you will receive a big bill cause they will underestimate.in a few years when they system is working they will force you to chnage your meter or disconnect you. You think there spending 133 million and won’t get you in the end.
    My power was off to for 4 hrs. Every one from the meter Installer to the electricians who fixed my meter where A-1. But I guess there always have to be complainers in the world who spread lies on the I ternet and newspaper to get noticed. And you wonder why they world is going to hell.

  10. No doubt there will be problems, but some meter bases are old and when they pull the meter the insulators break and the meter base must be replaced before the power can be restored. This is no ones fault, old gear breaks! The notices went out, maybe not everyone got them, but they shouldn’t be doing it if no one is home in case there are problems. But the job still has to be done!

  11. The NSP has failed to advise of the health and fire hazards of these meters – and that all they want them for is to sell your data without permission to several other companies – These meters are an invasion of privacy as well. The NS Government had no rite to permit them to be installed – We have opted out as well

  12. You don’t own the meter, so they can come to read your meter whenever. Replacing it is something all together different.

  13. I would strongly suggest to anyone who had their meter swapped out without notification to call and complain to the URB or even better send them an email complaining about how NSP is rolling this out. Here is their contact information: Telephone: (902) 424-4448
    Toll Free: 1-855-442-4448
    Fax: (902) 424-3919
    Email: board@novascotia.ca

    Also if you have any concerns at all email Nova Scotia Power at smartmeterinfo@nspower.ca and demand that they come and remove the meter and replace it with an electromechanical meter.

  14. Something is very odd on this Province…Hydro rates not differentiated, just getting smart meters, rates nearly double other provinces
    It’s like a third world country… Oligarchs
    Poor roads, taxes taxes, no doctors

    Beginning to rethink my move here from Ontario to retire

  15. My meter was upgraded without my knowledge… I purchased my mini home, when the inspection was done it had the old meter on. I checked recently regarding with the hyoe etc as I was going to opt out and unbeknownst to me a smart meter was installed. I have never received a notification that they were going to install it or notification when it was changed.

    1. Same here. Came home and there it was. I was surprised because we have an old house in the country thats never been renovated. Everything except the roof is as is since it was built in 1946. Thought they may have had misgivings putting something new on an old house without the owners being there but nope. Anyway, so far so good. Its working fine and our bill is the same as its always was. But it would have been nice to have been informed about the actual install beforehand. Admittedly, we initially wouldn’t have wanted it and prob would have told them so.

  16. I think there is allot of misinformation in this article myself – only 240 customers have opted out? I don’t think so – there are close to 4000 members on the facebook group No Smart Meters in Nova Scotia alone. Shame on NSP spokesperson for fibbing on this statistic! NSP was supposed to inform customers that they had a choice to opt out – they did not in the notice sent, they simply stated an upgrade would occur – no mention of choice. A benefit to having a meter is having someone dispatched from NSP right away to fix it? – please, do you really think that would happen? – I prefer to think that my call into NSP when the power goes out would be just as fast, and knowing they wouldn’t be “on their way” as soon as I call either. No mention either that the $4 fee for manual reads is something that we are all already paying for, built into your current monthly service charge. Sorry, I think the article leans a little too much in favor of NSP for my liking. Hopefully more people in NS wake up and get their opt out requests in before they have any damage done by Tribus and are left in the dark. It would be interesting to know if NSP has accounted for the cost of damaging customers property in their estimates for this install – for example, one of the people in the article had already purchased the equipment for the repair that NSP footed the bill for – which runs retail over $1000 alone.

  17. This just happened to me on Wednesday I came home from appointments in Halifax on the 15th to my house without power,my mass wasn’t even on I was not impressed I had a note on my door saying they attempted to upgrade my meter but ran into problems and I had to call when I was able to turn off my main breaker. My power was off at approximately 1:30 and I didn’t get it back till 11 that night. I didn’t know anything about it or that anyone was coming. More information and setting up a time to come while I was home would have been appreciated. Who comes onto your property and takes things off your home without notice or permission I am absolutely not impressed either!!

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