Smart meters get a high grade from
Sep 28, 2010 - Purva Patel - Houston
The vast majority of smart meters
installed in Texas are measuring and recording electric
usage accurately, according to a state-ordered study.
Navigant Consulting, chosen in March to conduct
the study for state regulators in response to complaints
about the accuracy of the meters, tested 5,627 meters
in use by CenterPoint Energy, Oncor and AEP Texas.
The company found that 99.96 percent of the smart
meters tested were accurate.
"A success rate of 99.96 of advanced meters
is much better than that of traditional meters," said
Terry Hadley, a spokesman for the Public Utility
The commission announced at a meeting last week
that Oncor, CenterPoint Energy and AEP will not pass
the cost of the study on to consumers, and indicated
that the meter manufacturers will cover some or all
of the cost, Hadley said.
Smart meters contain technology that provides real-time
power-use information to electricity distributors
and customers. Industry and government officials
say the information allows customers to monitor their
electric use more effectively, distribution companies
to spot outages more precisely and electric retail
providers to tailor rate plans to customers' usage
Despite the purported benefits, some lawmakers had
raised concerns about the accuracy of the new meters
as consumers complained of higher bills following
installation of the new meters.
Houston-based CenterPoint, which distributes electricity
to 2 million Houston-area customers regardless of
which retailer sells them their electricity, praised
"CenterPoint Energy takes the accuracy of all
our meters seriously," Kenny Mercado, senior
vice president of the company's smart grid deployment,
said in a written statement. "So we are extremely
pleased with these results. Consumers in Houston
can rest assured that their electric consumption
is being accurately measured and transmitted to retail
As of June 30, CenterPoint had installed 500,000
meters. It plans to install them for all 2 million
area customers by mid-2012.
During a validation process in February, CenterPoint
found that about 3,500 meters had overstated actual
usage due to a software glitch. The errors increased
customer bills about $7.
CenterPoint has replaced the meters and is testing
a new operating system that would prevent the problem
from recurring, according to the report.
The report affirms the results of another study
conducted by Reliant Energy, said Pat Hammond, a
spokeswoman for the Houston-based electric retailer.
Its study found that complaints of higher bills
were linked to increased usage during colder weather,
Hammond said, noting that an electric heater uses
five times as much electricity in one hour as it
takes to operate air conditioning for an hour in