Killeen residents continue giving Oncor an earful about their new advanced meters and high electric bills. Oncor has blamed a recent cold snap — and not the new meters – as the likely culprit for high bills. Lost in the debate, however, is the controversial history associated with Oncor’s meters, which are costing its customers about $2.22 per month.

Consider that Oncor began charging its customers for the advanced meters in early 2009 even though hundreds of thousands of its customers already had automated meters. That is, the company’s “new” automated meters are replacing hundreds of thousands of similarly “new” automated meters — and its customers have to pay for both.

The company is prematurely yanking out the earlier generation of automated meters because they were installed without meeting state standards. These meters have been characterized as “white elephants” in a recent Dallas Morning News report. The cost to Oncor customers for pulling out these meters? More than $90 million.

This means that Oncor customers are paying twice for automated meter service: for the meters the company installed just a few years back (and are now yanking out) and the meters that it recently began installed around Killeen and elsewhere.

Also unnoted in the recent reports is that Oncor recently hiked its system-wide rates by a $115 million annually. That rate hike began increasing customer bills late last year. It includes the cost of the white elephants.

— R.A. Dyer

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