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TribBlog: Smart Meters Really Are Smart

The rollout of smart meters in Texas has sparked complaints, but a new report has found that they're accurate in 99.96 percent of cases.

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A new report has found that Texas' smart meters are accurate in 99.96 percent of cases. 

The report by Navigant Consulting, released today, had been commissioned by the Public Utility Commission in the wake of a crush of complaints about the meters, which are being rolled out across Texas. A class action lawsuit was also filed against Oncor earlier this year due to smart meters concerns.

"It is Navigant Consulting's opinion ... that the vast majority of advanced meters currently installed by Oncor, CenterPoint and AEP Texas are accurately measuring and recording electric usage, as well as communicating that information through the respective advanced metering systems for use in customer billing," the report states.

The report can be found by clicking here, and clicking again on the number 38053.

As of June 30, Oncor had installed one million advanced meters in Texas, Centerpoint 450,000 and AEP Texas 14,000. Millions more are planned. The meters record information about a customer's electricity usage at 15-minute intervals, data that is supposed to pave the way for "smart grid" projects to make the grid more efficient. Already, smart meter customers of those three utilities can log onto a website to learn how much electricity they use every day (or every 15 minutes). 

Navigant Consulting found 5,625 or the 5,627 meters it tested to be accurate within +/- 2 percent, as required by the PUC. (All but five of the tested meters were accurate to within +/- 0.5 percent.) Both of the two inaccurate meter were Oncor's; one was running too quickly and the other too slowly.

As for customer complaints, the report found that "the vast majority of the higher electricity bills observed appear to be due primarily to significant changes in the weather and electricity usage during the recent severe winter in Texas." Last winter was much colder than usual, the consultants said.

The commissioners praised the report, and Barry Smitherman, the PUC chairman, said this morning at a PUC public meeting that the meter companies had agreed to pay for it.

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