white elephantjpgOncor’s controversial push to double collect for expensive advanced meter service continues riling state lawmakers — with one north Texas representative saying consumers should not have to pay for the company’s bad business decisions.

As part of a pending rate case, the north Texas transmission and distribution utility wants regulatory approval to charge customers more than $90 million for hundreds of thousands of meters that don’t meet all state standards. The company wants to yank these meters out prematurely so it can replace them with different advanced meters.

But state Reps. Vicki Truitt of Southlake and Lon Burnam of Fort Worth have called upon the Public Utility Commission to stand up for consumers and reject the company’s request. “Texans are not in favor of bailing out companies who gamble with ratepayers’ money, especially in this economic climate,” Rep. Truitt wrote in a July 27 letter to PUC Chairman Barry Smitherman.

Rep. Burnam not only called upon the PUC to reject recovery for the controversial meters — but also the company’s rate request overall. “I would like to remind you that for the past several years Texans have paid inflated electricity rates. …. To allow Oncor to raise its rates under these conditions simply adds insult to injury,” wrote Burnam in a July 27 letter to the PUC. Rep. Burnam noted that the PUC’s own staff has recommended a rate decrease.

State Rep. Jim Jackson earlier called upon the PUC to disallow rate recovery for the controversial meters. The Carrollton lawmaker said he’s been getting an earful about the issue from his constituents. “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,” Jackson wrote in his July 23rd letter to Chairman Smitherman.

The PUC could make a decision in the Oncor rate case later this week.

— R.A. Dyer

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