Texas Electricity Ratings has blogged quite a bit about the new Smart Meters being rolled out in the Dallas and Houston area. We’ve spoken about their ability to save money for customers, how they can measure real time electricity intake, how they could potentially be vulnerable to hacking, and even how they might be able to speak directly to your utilities like your washer and dryer. With all of the time we’ve paid to those things, I definitely don’t want to miss the opportunity to blog about this new development.
Since many of the smart meters have been installed, people have been calling in and complaining to ONCOR (and Centerpoint) that their electric bills have doubled, and in some cases tripled. This seems awfully coincidental seeing how it happened the second that the new smart meters were installed. Now, there are some explanations for what could cause this outside of the meters. ONCOR and Centerpoint are saying that the record cold has caused the huge leap in electricity usage, and that a vast majority of the people complaining about higher bills haven’t had smart meters installed. They say that record cold weather has forced people to use more electricity for heat, as well as space heaters, etc. They also didn’t mind throwing some REPs under the bus by saying that some guys just charge higher rates than others. Way for all of Texas Electricity to work as a team.
Anyway, the point of all this is that the Dallas Morning News article I just read is reporting that under the massive influx of complaints and calls for a meter reading from people with new smart meters, they are contracting an independent third party to determine whether or not the new meters, have, in fact, been responsible for much higher electricity bills. Many people were reporting that their new smart meters were spinning much faster than their old meters. This is a huge deal, because if the 3rd party finds something different, or wrong with the meters, or some other factor that the meters themselves have uncovered that was missed before, it could cost hundreds of millions of dollars to fix and repair. It would also create a huge dent in the forward progress of smart grid technology in general across the country, in which Texas is currently way ahead of the pack. It’s unlikely that this is a broad case of fraud the fleece customers, because that would be too big to hide, and I can’t think they would be forthcoming about hiring a 3rd party.
It’s an interesting situation all around for customers, as well as all the different Texas electric providers.