Oncor Smart Meters Will Cost You — For 11 Years

Meters designed to help homeowners curb energy usage

Oncor is installing high-tech meters designed to save homeowners energy, but some are wondering why they have to foot the bill for them.

The utility is in the process of installing 3 million of the electric smart meters. Oncor spokeswoman Catherine Cuellar said the all-digital meters will provide customers with real-time data that shows exactly how much electricity they use throughout the day.

"The goal is to get people to use less of our service," she said.

The all-digital meters will cost electricity users an extra $2.21 every month for the next 11 years, a charge that the Texas Public Utilities Commission approved.

But homeowner Pryce Bourgeois said he isn't happy about the extra cost when his electric bill is already high enough.

"Why do I have to pay for something I don't want?" he said.

The meters will help the utility cut costs by eliminating meter readers.

"If it makes life easier for Oncor, Oncor should pay for the new meters, not me," he said. "When you add it up, it's $300 out of my pocket."

But Oncor said the new meters will also help customers save money.

"We really believe this will give people valuable information that will allow them to make decisions about their electric usage that will offset the cost of the meter by curbing usage," Cuellar said.

Oncor says the average North Texan can use the information from the meters to save between $9 and $18 per month on their electric bill.

But Bourgeois said he is still skeptical.

"My bills haven't changed from the old meters to the new ones, so I would say the old ones were just fine," he said.

Oncor has set up a Web site to provide customers more information about the new meters.

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