Dallas, March 5, 2010 — The Public Utility Commission of Texas agreed to oversee Oncor’s proposed Smart Meter Verification Plan to confirm the accuracy of recently installed smart meters.
“We’re enthusiastically supporting the testing program so that we can eliminate any seeds of doubt about the accuracy of these meters in consumers’ minds. Once we get these concerns behind us, all of us can get focused on the real cause of the high bills and help consumers address that,” said Oncor Chairman and CEO Bob Shapard. “With all of the tests and data, we firmly believe the meters are accurate. But it’s even more important that everyone have the same level of confidence that we do. That’s why we submitted our plan.”
The commitments made by Oncor in the Smart Meter Verification Plan presented to the PUC today include the following:
* Independent testing program of our smart meters, including a random statistical sample in the Killeen-Temple area;
* Independent review of all smart meter-related systems and processes;
* Small number of in-home monitors provided to customers in a targeted pilot program so customers can track real-time when their electricity is being used;
* Review of all customer records showing the last usage recorded from the traditional meter. If any errors are found, Oncor will contact the customer and the Retail Electric Provider serving that customer;
* Side-by-side meter tests for a select number of volunteers, with weekly reports to the PUC, elected officials and media; and
* A series of customer education opportunities with the company Mobile Experience Center, accompanied by a team of customer care specialists.
Shapard noted that the principle complaint among consumers is that their bills are considerably higher this year compared to last year. Already, Oncor has looked into thousands of consumer questions about this subject, as well as conducted thousands of onsite smart meter tests, and from those examinations it appears that the high usage was driven almost exclusively by the cold weather and inefficient electric heating sources.
In fact, roughly 75 percent of the customers calling to request meter tests are customers who have traditional meters — showing that customers throughout the service area are experiencing higher than expected winter bills, regardless of meter type.
To help customers who have higher usage, and therefore higher bills, Oncor wants to help. Oncor representatives are available to analyze a customer’s historical usage to determine if there may be a problem.
Beginning in about two weeks, customers with smart meters will be able to access a web site to see their usage in 15-minute intervals, which will help them identify when they use the most electricity and to predict what their bills will be.
This data will provide consumers with a much better understanding of how much energy they are consuming, which will allow them to make changes, appropriately budget, or both.
Oncor Electric Delivery Company is a regulated electricity distribution and transmission business that delivers power to more than 3 million homes and businesses and operates about 117,000 miles of transmission and distribution lines in Texas.