Hydro-Québec's initial fee charged to those who wanted it to install a “non-communicating meter,” or one without a radio frequency, in place of a smart meter was $98.
In May, it lowered those fees to $48, in addition to an $8-a-month charge tacked on to power bills.
Several groups, including the consumer advocacy organization Union des Consommateurs, asked the provincial energy board to investigate.
In a ruling released today, the Régie de l'énergie found that even the reduced fees were too high and ordered Hydro-Québec to cut them by nearly 60 per cent.
Energy Minister Pierre Arcand said he was happy with the ruling, calling it a victory for consumers.
“We don’t need to penalize the consumer who use those kinds of meters,” he said.
Hydro-Québec would not comment on the ruling.
Energy analyst Marc-Olivier Moisan-Plante said Hydro-Québec likely set the fees higher than necessary in an effort to deter customers from refusing to have smart meters installed.
The ruling also includes a provision for customers who already opted out under the old fee structure. Hydro-Québec will have to refund them the difference, plus interest.
Hydro-Québec plans to replace 3.75 million analog meters across the province by 2018, for a total cost of close to a billion dollars.Suggest a correction