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Electric bills ‘smart’ with new meters

Oncor says it will investigate complaints over winter high bills
By MIKE BROWN Reporter Editor

The ‘smart meter’ The ‘smart meter’ Some Rockdale residents are joining the chorus of area electric customers concerned over increased bills since Oncor began deploying its new “smart” meters in the area.

The company says the increase has mostly been due to much colder weather this winter when compared to 2008-09.

Meteorological evidence shows it has been colder.

February, 2010, was, on average, about 15 degrees colder in Rockdale than February, 2009.

Smart meters

So many complaints have been received by the Texas Public Utility Commission that the PUC has hired an independent consultant to test accuracy of the new advanced metering systems.

Since March bills began arriving, reflecting February usage, several customers have notified The Reporter that bills have more than doubled, compared to last winter.

There have been so many complaints in Bell County that Oncor is conducting 10 side-byside meter tests in that county with 14 more planned.

That’s independently of thirdparty testing ordered last week by the Texas Public Utility Company.

State Rep. Ralph Sheffield (R-Temple) has asked Oncor to stop installing the new meters, pending results of the tests.

The company says it has received a 10-fold increase in complaints in recent months.

But Jim Greer, Oncor vicepresident, says 75 percent of the complaints are from customers still using the old meters, not the new “smart” devices.

Temperatures

The Reporter looked at high and low temperatures for the past two Februaries, using the official U. S. Weather Service high and low temperatures for each day as recorded at KRXTFM.

Average low temperature for February, 2010, was 34.9 degrees. Average low for February, 2009, was 53.3 degrees, a difference of 18.6 degrees or 35 percent.

Average high temperature for February, 2010, was 48.8 degrees. Average high for February, 2009, was 66.2 degrees, a difference of 20 percent.

In February, 2010, there were eight nights when the temperature dropped below freezing in Rockdale. In 2009 there was one, a 30-degree reading on Feb. 22.

In February, 2010, the mercury climbed above 70 degrees once, a 77-degree reading on Feb. 21.

There were 15 readings of 70 or above in February, 2009, and in three of those days the mercury topped 80.

‘Real-time info’

Oncor says the new smar t meters will save money for the customer and the company.

According to Oncor’s website, the new meters provide consumers “access to near-real-time information that they will need to better manage their electricity usage” and adds “Oncor’s AMS

Client: DAIRY QUEEN

Job Number: DQ00-5454-01

Element: February Standard ROP

Size: W=4.25” x H=8”

W=3.75” x H=8”

Color: B/W

Account Person: CR/EG/LC will also ultimately enable Retail Electric Providers to develop and offer new, innovative rate plans that will provide additional ways for consumers to lower their bills.”

Oncor says smart meters can be read remotely, saving the company the cost of sending a meter reader on location.

The company claims smart meters are 10 times more accurate than the old devices.

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