Retail Electric Power Metering, the View from Houston

Michael Giberson

While we dream of a future of knowledge-empowered customers with continuous access to their own meter data stream integrated with a computerized home power management system, it is worthwhile to open an eye on occasion at look at actual, everyday electric metering practice.

As Tom Fowler at the Houston Chronicle reports, the Texas PUC has granted power companies permission to shut off consumers’ electric power if meters are inaccessible to meter readers for three consecutive months. The new rule is part of an effort to cut down on the number of retail bills sent out based on estimates rather than meter reads.

So the dreamers are wondering whether prices sent down the line to the retail consumer can be hourly, or should be updated minute-by-minute, or maybe continuously variable, and the reality is that in extreme cases the distribution company sometimes has doesn’t actually see real meter data for three months? The future may be coming, but it isn’t here yet.

Fowler answers a few questions about meter reading from Houston residents on the Newswatch: Energy blog.