Friday AM November 19th, 2008

State regulators have approved Centerpoint energy’s new “smart” electric meters. Ed Mayberry reports.


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image of smart meter diagram

There have been radio-read meters in the past, but these meters will be wireless, as CenterPoint’s Floyd LeBlanc explains.

“Beginning in March, Centerpoint Energy will install advance meters to replace the analog meters.  These new meters are digital.  They can be read remotely.  As we continue to implement the technology, we’ll be able to turn electric service on and off remotely.  Customers will be able to access their meter readings via the Internet or a handheld PDA.  Customers will also be able to communicate with thermostats and other devices inside their home through this advanced electric meter.  It’s gonna promote energy efficiency and, we think, change the way the electric grid operates.”

As for how monthly electric bills will be affected, and the jobs of those who currently read meters…

“CenterPoint Energy’s gonna charge the electric retail providers.  That’s who customers buy electricity from.  $3.24 per month for the first two years of this rollout, and then that charge will be $3.05 per month for an additional ten years.  We hire lots of meter readers, so through attrition, we won’t replace positions as this goes forward.  Then we’re gonna need people to work on these advanced meters over time, so we think it means redeployment and a phased elimination of meter readers.”

The system is expected to cost about $640 million to deploy. 

Ed Mayberry, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.

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