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Pennsylvania’s PECO Requests to Expedite Smart Meter Installations

Pennsylvania’s PECO utility has made a formal request with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) to allow the utility to spend $282 million to expedite the installation of smart meters by the end of 2014.

In 2008, Pennsylvania passed a law that would require the state’s utilities to switch over to smart meters by 2024. PECO had originally planned to have all meters installed by 2019. However, the utility claims that by installing the meters sooner than later, $58 million can be saved by eliminating the need for two different meter systems over the next several years.

Smart meters, unlike traditional meters, allow two-way communication between the utility and the meter. More accurate meter readings, more sophisticated billing, grid management and outage control are among the benefits for customers. Furthermore, customers are able to monitor their own electricity usage so they can identify ways to reduce consumption.

PECO started installing the smart meters last year, but the program was suspended after 186,000 of the meters caught fire.  For two months in the fall, the program was suspended and all smart meters were replaced by others from a competing manufacturer. To finish this first phase, PECO will have installed an additional 600,000 meters in June. For the second phase, the remaining 1.2 million meters are planned to be installed by the end of 2014.

The project is being funded by customers through surcharge in transmission and distribution rates. The charges increase the average PECO residential customer’s electric bills by about $1.53 per month. Customers that choose to shop around for a retail electricity provider will still be required to use new meters.

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