Texas utility commission rolls out smart meter testing

A contractor hired by the Texas Public Utility Commission should start widespread testing and evaluation of so-called “smart meters” throughout the state by the end of the month. The testing comes in reaction to complaints about higher bills since the digital meters have started replacing old analog meters.
The PUC approved a plan today for the testing and evaluation to begin later this month.
“We are committed to a comprehensive review to ensure the accuracy of smart meters,” PUC Chairman Barry Smitherman said in a statement. “If any flaws are discovered we will move to correct them immediately.”
Navigant Consulting, the firm hired by the PUC for the testing last month, will examine customer electricity usage and data before and after the installation of smart meters. This will include tests in the Houston area, where CenterPoint Energy has installed smart meters, and in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, where Oncor handles that task.
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

Oncor started testing meters in its territory last month, but PUC spokesman Terry Hadley said that effort doesn’t mean Oncor can forgo the Navigant testing.