Oncor’s push to charge its customers for hundreds of thousands of white elephant meters continues riling north Texas residents, who have complained about the issue to their local lawmakers.
That’s the word from state Rep. Jim Jackson, who in a recent letter to the Public Utility Commission reports that many of his constituents have expressed displeasure about the meters. Oncor acquired and installed hundreds of thousands of them without waiting for the PUC to create the appropriate standards. Now that the meters fail to meet all those standards, the company wants to yank them out prematurely. Oncor proposes charging ratepayers more than $90 million for this wasteful effort.

“Please consider the interest of ratepayers before approving additional delivery rate increases,” Rep. Jackson, R-Carrollton, wrote in his July 23rd letter to PUC Chairman Barry Smitherman. Jackson added that “the fact that the company made a bad investment decision in purchasing these meters should be a cost to the utility company — not the consumer.”

Oncor participated every step of the way in the creation of the meter standards, and so should have known they could pose a problem. In response to the growing criticism, Oncor now says it plans to install the non-compliant meters on street lights. However, most individual street lights don’t use meters.

Many of the non-compliant meters have little value beyond salvage value. The meter issue is one component of Oncor’s request to raise rates by more than $250 million annually. Most other major parties in the case — including the PUC staff — agree that the regulated utility already collects too much money and should instead lower rates.

— R.A. Dyer