The Electric Utility Board heard a presentation about Advanced Metering ("Smart Meters") from Mark Zion, the Executive Director of the Texas Public Power Association (TPPA) on Tuesday.
TPPA is the statewide trade association for public power providers in Texas. Dr. Gary Zheng is the current president of that organization.
Zion offered an overview of the history of advanced meters in the state. 6.5 million advanced meters are in place among investor-owned utilities in Texas. In each area there is a $2 to $3 surcharge per customer to recover the cost.
Only 1,000 customers of the 6.5 million objected strenuously enough to not have smart meters by taking advantage of the Opt-Out policy. Quoting a 2012 Public Utilities Commission study Zion stated, "Decades of scientific research have not provided any proven biological effects from exposure. Smart meters are not intended for, are not designed to, and do not have the capability to harm an individual or direct a person's thoughts or actions."
PUC has ruled as of Aug. 2013 that an IOU may provide and separately charge for a non-smart metering alternative in the form of an analog meter or smart meter with communications function disabled.
IOU's are also prohibited in most instances from selling, sharing or disclosing smart meter information. A pending ruling will require the IOU customers who opt out of the smart meters to pay a one time fee of $135 to $50 and recurring monthly fees as high as $18.
Out of the nine largest municipal providers in Texas, four have smart meters. Lubbock is the third largest. Austin Energy has 435,000 meters deployed with 200 customers who have opted out for a $75 one time fee and $10 monthly fee.
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