Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Oncor "Smart" Meters

Has anyone else had their new Oncor meter installed yet? I got an e-mail from an Eastside friend yesterday (who just happens to be a Godless liberal) saying his bill has gone through the roof since his was installed...

"It's weird because it's not just that the dollar amount of the bill went up. There was no increase in our fee. It's that the recorded kilowatt hour usage shot up like a {expletive removed} roman candle right around when they would've installed these "smart" meters...

SEPT 29 - OCT 28, 2009: 1123 kWh
OCT 28 - NOV 30, 2009: 1648 kWh
(suspected time when new meters were installed)
NOV 30 - DEC 31, 2009: 4160 kWh
DEC 31 2009 - FEB 01, 2010: 3775 kWh
FEB 01 - MARCH 02, 2010: 3519 kWh

I can see it going up a bit due to Christmas lights (don't get excited, technically they were pagan lights. Kidding.), but then it doesn't come down considerably after that. We took all our Christmas stuff down before New Years."

Maybe Christian God's just punishing him, but I'm not so sure. Looks like it's happening to a lot of other people as well.


  1. Did anyone really think that the "smart" meters were going to benefit the consumer? Really?

    If so, I want you to call me. I'm thinking about building a performing arts center, attached parking garage, and it's free? Unless, of course, it isn't, then I will teach you how to make turnips bleed.

    Oncor=Douchebags. Sorry (girls), but that's the facts. They don't deal honestly with the public...their PR people are super cute, but the company doesn't allow them to tell the whole story.

    The meters are about charging more. For the meter. And, 2 for the usage, if you analog meter was defective. And, now, by implicit permission, they can install these meters, monitor them, bill you, and leave you in the dark if you don't pay. Welcome to Amerika, thanks to Oncor.

  2. SWWNBN,

    Geoff is the godless friend mentioned above. I told him he should write all of these companies as Alabaster K. Abthernabther. :)

  3. I got my stinkin' new meter in late November, and my usage has been through the roof. (Though some of that could be using my totally inefficient electric heater, heavy stove/oven use around Thanksgiving and Christmas baking, watching more TV...)

    So I'll see what happens now that we're finally done with the cold.

    I also wonder whether the old meters weren't accurately reading usage. With water meters...when they stop working right, they misread in favor of the consumer. Wonder if the same could be true for the electric meters.

  4. I will be interested in the PUC's results compared to the Oncor test. The most compelling test would be to parallel a new smart meter with an existing legacy meter; then calibrate both meters and re-test.

    I say this because several years ago, before smart meters were even a gleam in the provider's eye, dad and I watched as a service technician perform some required maintenance on a legacy unit. At any rate, dad joked if the guy could replace the old meter with a fresh one. The tech casually responded, "Oh you don't want me to do that. These meters tend to slow down with age."

    This suggests that truckloads of legacy meters being replaced by smart meters might very well cause a noticeable shift in usage as the legacy meters had fallen out of accurate measure.

    Of course, this post contains enough undocumentable information I really should post it as "Anonymous".

  5. Ian and tdaytx are correct. The meters slow down with age. Most errors are the manual sort of reading right to left (vs. left to right) to prevent rolling over a new "place" in the digits.

    Even my beloved Alibaster couldn't fix this one.

    Oncor knows how much "juice" is on the grid, and how much is consumed, and how much is BILLED by the providers. For a long time, there has been a huge disparity.

    Someone in the know suggested to me that this was one reason the PUC allowed the kwh rate in Texas to basically DOUBLE in the last decade. (Of course, 2 years ago, some consumers were paying 16+ cents per kwh).

    So, now it looks like Oncor will get both the meters and the higher kwh... BTW, Oncor isn't paid by the kwh like the providers, but they are paid off of a small amount per kwh billed for the providers they service. Add that up statewide, and it could be BILLIONS for them a year if the old meters were slowing down.

  6. So this is basically like an environmental cigarette tax? If you want to enjoy the luxury of heat and light than you're gonna pay heavily for it and not just in the carbon foot print type of way...

    If our electric bill doubled to $6-700 I'd be the first to throw a barrel with a fire in it in the center of my living room. SWWNBN, you can help me decorate it so it's hobo-loft-chic.

    What does something like this do to the elderly (b/c we're in Richardson, duh) who are on fixed incomes and can barely pay their electric bills now???

  7. That's a great question. My grandmother is getting squeezed HARD with the costs of her needed medicines...plus food is almost double the price in 10 years, utilities almost double in 7, gas hits $4 a gallon, and we have a new class entering poverty.

    It's sad, because a lot of these people survived the Great Depression, and they know hard times.

    Can someone wake up Bob Macy and ask him to weigh in?

    Did I just say that?

  8. First of all, I have a smart meter, and only use 1401 kwh this past month, with a stay at home wife and two kids. The 3000+ kwh numbers seem WAY HIGH.

    Here are a couple of thoughts or questions about what will come out of the smart meters:

    1) The consumer will be able to have a real time understanding about how much energy they use. This can (if desired) help them make better choices.

    2) How easy will it be for us the consumer to be able to see our own usage?

    3) The power company will be able to know real time who uses how much energy at what times, and charge different rates for peak consumption. You probably (at least if you have TXU) have noticed the "cheap nights and weekends, expensive 1-6 weekdays" plan that they offer. I've also seen the power company offering to give you a smart thermostat (connected to the internet) for your use, but the fine print says they can "trickle" you in peak power conditions, which I interpret as to mean kill your AC if they need to.

    4) It seems that one driver in all of this is being able to supply the peak load. (Something that isn't as big of a concern once the recession hit...) If the power company kept getting more demand for peak times, it was going to need to build extra plants to support that peak load. I don't have any real data on this, but it was an argument I had heard at one point.

    5) I would be curious to know how this will help the power companies be more efficient in the system. I believe that they need to "burn" extra energy so that when someone new turns on that microwave, that they don't have to turn up the power plant by 1100 Watts, but can simply have it come out of the buffer. Will all of this information actually be able to "close the loop" quicker to be able to "burn" less power?

    6) Since real time info is known, how private is that info? I.e. we've all heard about the indoor marijuana farm busted due to energy profile, but will there be new more sophisticated "triggers" that will have the police at your door?

    7) Are these smart meters two-way, meaning can a home owner put energy back onto the grid, and then get credit for it? I don't see many rushing to put solar panels on their roofs, but I am curious what the technology is...

    8) Tampering will be 100x harder.

    9) When does our gas meter and water meter get this upgrade? :-)


  9. Sorry, guess I'm still figuring out my "profile" thing. The previous anonymous blogger was me...