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Thermal metering regulations coming to Canada

How to plan ahead for the stricter new rules
Tuesday, August 29, 2017
by Vince Galloro

While oversight of electricity and gas metering has been in place for quite some time, thermal metering has managed to remain unchecked. But soon that’s going to change. By 2026, Measurement Canada plans to have thermal energy metering regulated in a similar fashion as gas and electricity. With the new rules on the horizon, it’s important to ensure the thermal metering set-up property owners and managers have in place today, will meet requirements around how usage is measured tomorrow.

Think of Measurement Canada as the sheriff’s department of the utility world. While its mission is to ensure equity and accuracy where goods and services are bought and sold on the basis of measurement, its job is to come up with rules to ensure consumers are being billed fairly and accurately, and enforce the rules where providers fail to comply.

For thermal metering, this means creating and enforcing guidelines on everything from which thermal meters qualify for installation, to how thermal meters will be inspected, to who will be certified to inspect them. So far we know that by 2021, all new installations must use approved meters, and all meter installations must be initially inspected. By 2026, all unapproved meters must be removed from service. And while there are still details being worked out about the roll-out of regulations, the best way to prepare for the upcoming regulations is to take all possible pre-emptive measures.

Managing the change

Successful businesses know that in order to succeed in this ever-changing landscape, they need to be two steps ahead. When selecting a thermal metering provider, they’ll want to know that they’re taking the right steps to meet the upcoming regulations.

Every provider will have a different plan in place for how they’ll be managing the change in regulations. If a provider is dismissive, or is content with complying with current regulations and doesn’t seem to have a strategy for the future, it could lead to serious problems down the road. Just because a provider can install and bill for thermal meters doesn’t mean they’re using technology that will comply with future guidelines.

To protect yourself, be sure to ask your sub-metering provider what they’re doing to ensure their meters and practices will meet or exceed standards laid out by Measurement Canada. Find out which manufacturer they source their meters from, and what they’re doing to ensure their equipment is providing accurate readings. Check if they have a contingency plan in the event that metering equipment doesn’t comply with future guidelines. Ask if they are involved in conversations with Measurement Canada to understand what they are obligated to do. Will they replace meters at their own expense? Make sure your business won’t be negatively affected by the way your sub-metering provider decides to run theirs.

Remember, it is expected that the new Measurement Canada guidelines will make the owner of the meter ultimately responsible for compliance. Regardless of who owns the meters, it’s most important to have a sub-metering provider you can trust, a partner who can ensure efficient and timely compliance with minimal disruption to service.

Lessons from abroad

In the absence of thermal metering guidelines from Measurement Canada, one way to prepare for the future is to explore how other markets with stringent regulations have managed their transition. In Europe, a spike in demand for thermal energy led to inconsistent standards around thermal metering. In addition, each country had different certification for measurement instruments.

A lack of consistent standards in Europe quickly led to low quality equipment permeating the market, which caused a lack of confidence in thermal energy measurement. To create stability in the marketplace the Measuring Instrument Directive (MID) was established so that manufacturers across Europe were required to follow one set of guidelines for certification. Of course, this change was a good thing for the thermal industry, but what did this mean for meters that were already installed?

As a business compromise, companies were given a transition period of 10 years in which they could continue installing overstocked meters that didn’t meet the new certification guidelines. In the end, meters installed before and during the transition period for MID regulations were grandfathered in. While it’s uncertain if Measurement Canada will go down the same route as their European counterpart and grandfather already-installed thermal meters, there are meters you can select with a good chance of meeting future guidelines. A relatively safe choice is a company with years of experience, such as GWF MessSysteme AG, who have developed their meters to meet European standards.

Right now Measurement Canada continues to develop the thermal metering standards and have engaged the private sector to share their thoughts and recommendations on the subject. Ultimately, the upcoming regulations will help to reinforce and add legitimacy to thermal metering in Canada. Strict regulations will improve the quality of meters and service, and help grow demand for thermal energy metering. The important thing for building managers and developers is to make sure you’re choosing a partner that is already developing best practices in thermal metering. When you have a partner who strives to provide the best service not only today, but also into the future, it’s a lot easier to handle change.

This article was provided by Vince Galloro, Vice President, Installations & Operations at Enercare Inc. Enercare.

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