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Utility PPL Charging Customers for Smart Meters

PPL Electric Utilities has asked the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission for permission to replace customers’ automated electric meters.

“Our electric meters are approaching the end of their useful life, and we want to be proactive in replacing them,” said Robert M. Geneczko, a PPL customer services vice president. “Technology has changed significantly since these meters were installed, and we’re looking forward to the expanded capabilities that would create benefits for our customers.”

Charges for the new meters would be phased in over time beginning in 2015, and decrease after the installation period, according to the utility, a subsidiary of Allentown-based PPL Corp. The average residential customer would pay about $2.79 a month over the time the meters are in service.

The new meters would give customers access to additional energy-saving tools, such as real-time prices and usage data, and improve service reliability through better detection of power outages, the utility said.

In addition, the new meters would bring PPL Electric Utilities into full compliance with state-mandated regulations on metering technology, the utility said.

In the plan filed with the PUC on Monday, PPL Electric Utilities proposed to replace its 1.4 million electric meters between 2017 and 2019. The estimated cost of the replacement, including all of the related communications and computer system infrastructure, is about $450 million.

Customers are still paying for the automated meters now in use, which were installed in 2002 and 2003.

Over the course of several years, they would be billed for both the old and new meters, according to PPL spokesman Paul Wirth. He said the combined cost for the average residential customer would peak in 2019 at $6.69 a month.