The Texas Public Utility Commission (PUC) announced on Thursday its plan to carry out a multi-pronged evaluation process for the independent testing of smart meters installed in the Texas competitive retail electric market. This action follows Oncor Electric Delivery’s announcement last week that it had incorrectly installed more than a thousand smart meters in central Texas.
The PUC said that its independent testing process of smart meters will track electricity usage data all the way from the new smart meters to final processing to ensure that it is accurate.
Oncor Electric Delivery said that it made errors installing about 1,800 smart meters over the past several months, The Temple Daily Telegram reported on Saturday. On the average, the errors cost those customers about $120 each.
Oncor is making adjustments on customers’ bills through their electric providers, according to the newspaper. The electric company serves Bell County in central Texas by providing and maintaining the infrastructure that carries electricity to 250,000 homes and businesses in the county.
"We are committed to a comprehensive review to ensure the accuracy of smart meters," said PUC Chairman Barry Smitherman. "If any flaws are discovered we will move to correct them immediately."
Testing and evaluation will begin later in April and will examine customer electricity usage and data both before and after the installation of a smart meter. The independent review includes:
- Testing and evaluating installed smart meters, individually and side-by-side.
- Reviewing historic customer usage.
- Analyzing customer complaints.
- Evaluating utility smart meter processes, procedures and controls involving system hardware and software.
- Tracking the accuracy of information transmitted from a smart meter to its final destination.
- Sampling customer usage without smart meters to compare information and identify any inconsistencies with customer accounts that have smart meters.
The PUC signed a contract with Navigant Consulting Inc. on March 16. Navigant will evaluate work done by the transmission and distribution utilities serving the competitive retail electric regions, Oncor, CenterPoint Energy, AEP Texas Central, and AEP Texas North. An initial estimate indicates that approximately 5,000 meters will be tested. The company expects to report results to the PUC in June. Earlier reporting may be done as needed.
On Monday, Oncor released the cumulative results for the fourth week of the side-by-side meter demonstration program for those participating homes in Temple. Each week, Oncor will release results to the public, the Texas PUC, and the media.
The side-by-side demonstrations are part of Oncor’s Smart Meter Verification Plan, a plan to ensure the accuracy of the smart meters and restore consumer confidence.
More information about the Texas smart meter program is available at www.smartmetertexas.com.
Sources: Texas PUC, Oncor, Temple Daily Telegram, Smart Meter Texas