November 1, 1996
After filing Energy Probe’s meter reading evidence in the Consumers Gas 1997 rates case before the Ontario Energy Board, Consumers Gas agreed, during the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) process prior to the hearing, to reduce its 1997 meter reading budget by $500,000 or about 7%. This reduction in cost corresponds to an annual saving of about $0.38 per customer. The Board accepted the ADR agreement on this issue.
Since the conclusion of the rates case, Consumers Gas has committed to fully contracting out meter reading by ‘97 and to pursue joint meter reading with electric distribution and water utilities where possible. The utility has a program to redeploy meter reading employees within the company to the extent possible. One difficulty in implementing joint meter reading is the large number of distinct water and electric distribution utilities within Consumers Gas’ franchise territory, many of whom are concerned about their institutional future in light of expected changes in Ontario’s electricity industry. Some electric distribution utilities have data security concerns, however Consumers Gas will enter into signed agreements not to use electric utility data for competitive purposes.
Energy Probe will be working to ensure declining meter reading costs beyond 1997.