Customer Says Solar Power, Smart Meters Don't Mix

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBCDFW.com
    Tim Jones spent thousands of dollars -- even after rebates and tax credits -- to install a solar-power system.

    A Haltom City homeowner says going solar has cost more than he bargained for.

    Tim Jones spent thousands of dollars -- even after rebates and tax credits -- to install a solar-power system in October. He said his power bills went down dramatically -- until he was switched to a smart meter.

    Solar Power, Smart Meter Warning

    [DFW] Solar Power, Smart Meter Warning
    Tim Jones of Haltom City says he spent thousands on a solar power system on his home, but since getting a smart meter he's seen no credit for the solar power generated at his home.

    “I’m not complaining over $5 a month," Jones said. "This is a huge financial difference. I would have been better off if I hadn’t installed this.”

    He said he has not had a credit for the solar power generated at his home on his electric bills since the new meter was installed.

    Oncor Electric Delivery said it replaced Jones' spinning-wheel analog meter around April 1.

    But under Texas rules, Jones should not have been using his solar system before getting a digital meter said Oncor spokeswoman Carol Peters.

    She said Jones’ interconnection agreement only took effect at the time the smart meter was installed.

    “Since January of 2009 in Texas, the market rules are that you must have an interconnection agreement and an in-flow/out-flow meter set before you begin operating your solar system," Peters said.

    Peters said Jones' digital meter is properly recording the solar power generated at his home.

    His retail electric provider should give him credit for it, but only a handful of retail providers in Texas offer solar credit, she said.

    “The amount paid back to the consumer is negotiated, so the retail electric provider and the consumer with the solar panels get together and decide what those kilowatt hours are worth," Peters said.

    She said Jones was given information about Texas' solar power rules, but Jones said he was not told the details before installing his system.

    Jones may have to pay a penalty to change to a provider that offers solar credit.

    He said he suggests other people considering solar power "think twice about it."

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