white elephantjpg“Bagging a white elephant” — that’s how the Dallas Morning News characterized moves by Oncor to purchase nearly 900,000 automated meters now considered to be obsolete because they fail to meet state guidelines.

In his June 5th front page article, reporter Steve McGonigle chronicled how Oncor wants its customers to pay $93 million for the meters – even though most of the company’s customers never received them. He also notes that experts advising the Texas Public Utility Commission have found that much of the company”s expenditures in this regard were imprudent.

“These costs should be borne by Oncor, not by ratepayers,” PUC staff attorney Patrick Peters III asserted in a document obtained by the Morning News.

Oncor’s request for more money for obsolete meters comes on top of the $2.21 monthly surcharge the company recently began collecting for hundreds of thousands of separate advanced meters. These new meters became necessary when it became clear that the first generation meters did not meet state guidelines.

The newspaper also quoted local resident Joel Morgan, a disabled auto parts salesman from Rockwall, who said in a letter to the Public Utility Commission that he and his wife have no interest in paying for automated meters – obsolete or not.

“Please keep us in mind when these BIG BOYS with the DEEP POCKETS come to you asking for permission to stick it to us again and again and again,” he wrote.

R.A. "Jake" Dyer

R.A. "Jake" Dyer

Is a policy analyst for TCAP, a coalition of cities and other political subdivisions that purchase electricity in the deregulated market for their own governmental use. Because high energy costs can impact municipal budgets and the ability to fund essential services, TCAP, as part of its mission, actively promotes affordable energy policies. High energy prices also place a burden on local businesses and home consumers.