Will PUC Fine TNMP For Violations?
Electric utility Texas New Mexico Power (TNMP) faces a stiff penalty for running afoul of Texas electricity rules. TNMP estimated customers’ bills too many months in a row after failing to plan appropriately for infrastructure upgrades. A Public Utility Commission staff report recommends an administrative fine for TNMP of $1,747,400.
That’s enough to make just about any company sweat. So how did they get themselves in this mess?
The PUC report is scathing, and it tells the public exactly why staff want to fine TNMP. Investigators found TNMP had three years notice before the technology for reading meters would be scrapped. TNMP didn’t start planning for the change until halfway through that three-year period. And when the time came to change out old meters, TNMP didn’t complete the project quickly enough. The utility estimated some customers’ usage for several months at a time. However, PUC rules only allow for estimating for up to three months at a time. Those results harmed TNMP customers.
For example, some on bill credit plans missed out on the savings they should have. The PUC report cites one example of a customer who only received her bill credit only after complaining to TNMP. It is unclear how many more customers experienced this issue and did not complain.
Metering Tech Upgrades Behind Fine for TNMP
Both the old and new technology are meant to provide accurate, up-to-date data on customers’ usage. It is called advanced metering infrastructure (AMI). TNMP used 3G for communication with certain meters as part of its AMI system. Estimates are normal when tech upgrades happen, but the potential TNMP fine is on the table because of how poorly this swap-out went through. PUC staff said this created “a potential economic hazard for the retail electric providers serving the customers in TNMP’s service area.”
The change in tech needed to happen because 3G would be phased out. But it did not happen in compliance with PUC rules.
Watch Your Meter
This snafu underscores how important it is to read your electricity meter. Every few months, check your power bill against the meter on the side of your house. If they’re far off, you may need to call your utility. Most will come check your meter for free once a year, but verify this with your utility company before summoning them.
A Plan For Your Home
Whether you’re in the TNMP service area or that of another utility, you need an electric plan for your home. The selection of plans at https://www.texaselectricityratings.com will help you find just the right one to meet your home power needs.