News Release
From the Office of State Senator Royce West - District 23

For Immediate Release
CONTACT:  Kelvin Bass, 214-467-0123
March 11, 2010

Senator West: PUC and Oncor agreement on fees a step in the right direction

DALLAS — State Senator Royce West (D-Dallas) says actions taken today by the Texas Public Utility Commission (PUC) in addressing the concerns of outraged Oncor customers was the right thing to do. During today's Commission meeting in Austin, Oncor and Houston-based Centerpoint Energy agreed to refund fees charged to customers who had their meters read after complaints over excessive charges following installation of the new smart meters.

"Basically, it was the right thing to do," said Senator West, in Austin for interim Senate committee hearings. "There's been an increased number of calls to my office over the past few weeks from constituents regarding high utility bills and with complaints about the smart meters. Although these new meters represent the wave of the future, there are still kinks to be worked out before customers can feel comfortable with the new technology."

The pact was reached without a vote of the Commission. Under Oncor's current tariff agreement, customers are allowed one meter reading free of charge over any four-year period. Customers who have had more than one reading within that period have been charged an average of $30 for Oncor's technicians to check the accuracy of their meters.

"Under the agreement reached, the free readings start from the time a customer has the new smart meters installed," said Senator West. "According to the PUC, systemwide, about 1,200 Oncor customers have been charged. I applaud the commission and Chairman Smitherman's willingness to address the public's concern while Oncor works through a deployment that will impact thousands of Texas households. Oncor has also been cooperative since this issue surfaced last week."

Dallas-based Oncor serves much of North and Central Texas. Customer complaints began after receiving December bills that some say have run two to three times the norm. Other measures by the PUC have called for independent testing and for customers to be able to monitor their own energy usage.

For more information, please contact Kelvin Bass at 214-467-0123.