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The Price of Power: ONCOR Energy to seek increase

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Utility plans to replace all meters by 2012, wants customers to foot the bill


J. Hoskins

The Ellis County Press


AUSTIN-   Oncor Electric Delivery is planning to replace all of its customers meters with digital meters by 2012.   The cost will be passed to the customer, if the utility delivery company has it’s way.  Along with getting a new meter, the customer would also see increases in their utility bills of up to 3.90 a month for 11 years, depending on if the customer is a residential or non residential customer.   The non-residential customer will pay a rate of 3.90 per month, while residential customers will pay a rate of $2.29 per month, according to a filing with the Public Utility Commission on May 28, says Terry Hadley, spokesman for the Public Utility Commission.


ONCOR says that the benefit of the new meters, in addition to saving the utility time and money is that customers can see near real time usage of their electricity over the internet.  The utility also says it will learn of outages before they are even reported by the customers, and that customers could purchase a handheld meter to monitor electric usage in their homes for approximately $100.


The petition to the PUC stated that the intent of the surcharge and rate increase over the next 11 years was to pay for the meters ONCOR plans to install.  The new meters will have hardware and software which allows for two-way communication with the utility company.   ONCOR claims that they will save $176 million dollars by making the switch from the meters currently in use.


The Public Utility Commission is offering citizens and customers a chance to voice their opinions or concerns in hearings.  In order to voice ones opinion on the issue, they must file a motion to intervene, according to PUC officials.    This can be done by contacting PUC at 512-936-7000.   Citizens can submit written comments to the Public Utility Commission at POB 13326 Austin, Texas 78711, or through their website at www.puc.state.tx.us.


The proposed rate increase may present a hardship to many on a fixed income, especially the elderly.  Some Ellis County residents who are TXU customers are paying $250-300, per month for their electric bills as it is, without the increase.  TXU, through some local contractors do have programs to help customers make their homes more energy efficient through a program, at little to no cost, depending on income.  This program allows for residents on the utility, in certain cases to have their homes insulated.  Some area residents report that they have been able to get their homes insulated under the program, and one resident reported a near $100.00 drop in her electric bill after the service was performed.  Not all residents and customers will qualify for this program, however.  Please see www.elliscountypress.com for more details on this program, as information is gathered.


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