Some Ottawa residents say their smart meters aren't so smart. They've been getting hydro bills for the last few months that say they owe nothing.  Now they're worried that they may be in store for a whopping bill down the road.

   For the last several years, Hydro One has been installing smart meters throughout Ontario.  So far, 1.2 million meters have been placed on homes and apartments throughout this province.  The aim of the McGuinty government initiative was to help reduce energy consumption by showing consumers how to save money in off-peak hours.  Smart meters for smart usage, in other words.

   Koert Winkel considers himself a pretty smart guy.  The rural Ottawa resident knows he’s been using some hydro over the last few months since his smart meter was installed.  Still, his hydro bills have not reflected that.

   “My bill reads zero,” says Winkel, “zero on peak hours,mid peak and off peak.”

    Four bills in a row.  Oddly enough, he is paying a $31 delivery charge -- on apparently nothing.

  “It's not a very smart meter is it?, Winkel ask.   “If it was a smart meter, it would be sending a signal and I’d be getting a regular bill and whether it’s estimated or actual, I'd be fine but I'm not.  It's not sending a signal and I’m not paying anything currently.”

   Winkel has complained several times to Hydro One.  He says when he called about it, they told him it’s his area, that he lives in a rural area, so the repeater isn't working or the unit isn't sending very well.

   Winkel’s neighbour has complained as well.  He, too, has been receiving zero balance bills.

   “The meter is probably very smart but the billing system isn't working right,” says Ed Miller.

    Hydro One says bills showing zero consumption are unusual.  In a statement, it said "it has experienced a few issues where the meter is not able to transmit the data and in these instances the data is stored in the meter until it can be rectified or manually extracted.”  It added that it is aware of localized, intermittent, seasonal communications issues of the wireless smart meter network affecting a handful of customers in the outlying Ottawa area and is working to resolve it.

   In the meantime, Winkel is paying a bit each month towards his bill, worrying about a whopping bill when his smart meter finally works. 

   “I am paying a bit each month because we’ve paid attention to our bill. But how about those who haven't?” asks Winkel.

   A couple of days ago, a Hydro One technician came to Winkel’s house to replace his smart meter.  Winkel asked him whether that would rectify the problem.  He said he didn’t know. 

   So, what’s Winkel expecting his next bill to read? 

   “Zero,” he states, with a smile.