Oncor: There's No Solar Power Trouble With Smart Meters

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBCDFW.com
    Oncor Electric Delivery says smart meters do not have a problem working with solar power, despite what a Plano customer says he was told.

    Oncor Electric Delivery says smart meters do not have a problem working with solar power, despite what a Plano customer says he was told.

    Dan Peterson said an Oncor supervisor told him his smart meter was replaced because of a widespread problem.

    A Tale of Two Smart Meters

    [DFW] A Tale of Two Smart Meters
    Oncor Electric Delivery says smart meters do not have a problem working with solar power, despite what a Plano customer says he was told.

    "They told me they were replacing all of the smart meters that were attached to solar panel systems or wind turbine systems," he said. "They were replacing them all in the four-county area because they were not communicating back to the main computer."

    The company's "smart" digital power meters have wireless capability to permit power companies to read the meter remotely without manual inspection.

    But Oncor spokesman Chris Schein said there is no widespread replacement of smart meters connected to solar or wind power devices. He said the company does not know why Peterson was told that and Oncor has begun an internal investigation on how the miscommunication was made.

    Peterson said a worker came to his home at about 9:30 p.m. on July 2 to do job -- in the middle of a rainstorm.

    "I wouldn't want to play with electricity in a rainstorm unless it was an absolute emergency, and there they are out in the evening in a rainstorm just to replace a smart meter. Something must be wrong," he said.

    Peterson told the worker to come back the next day, and his digital meter was replaced with a new one on July 3, a Saturday.

    He installed his solar power system in the summer of 2009 through an Oncor rebate program.

    With tax credits, the rebate and income for the extra power it generates, the clean energy system could eventually pay for itself despite a large-up front expense. Peterson has an agreement with retail electric provider TXU to be paid for the extra power his solar system returns to the electric grid

    But he said he has never received any credit from TXU for his solar power, and he has filed complaints with TXU and the Texas Public Utility Commission.

    Schein said the lack of payments cannot be because of a wireless communication issue because Plano does not yet have wireless smart meter capability.

    Most of Plano is not due to receive smart meters until 2012, so equipment to read the meters wirelessly has not yet been installed in the city, he said.

    Peterson's older smart meter was working properly and was being read manually but was accidentally replaced.

    In some other areas where wireless reading equipment is available, the company is replacing smart meters that have not been sending data wirelessly as they should.

    "Peterson's meter was accidentally put in that group," Schein said.

    TXU said it has completed its review of Peterson's complaints.

    "We have been working with Mr. Peterson for the past few months to resolve this issue," spokesman Mike Gutierrez said in a statement. "We will be issuing him a retroactive credit for his solar generation going back to the date on which he says he submitted his original request. We apologize to Mr. Peterson for any inconvenience."

    Oncor is installing millions of smart meters in North Texas, and customers are paying the expense with monthly fees on electric bills.

    Many residents have blamed higher electric bills on the digital meters, but Oncor said higher usage is to blame and not the new meters.

    Peterson said his experience with Oncor and TXU has been discouraging.

    "I don't think I trust them," Peterson said. "I understand why other people don't trust them."

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