Ohio regulators delay decision on AEP smart meter opt-out charge
“Commissioners wanted more time to consider,” PUCO spokesman Matt Schilling said in an email. “It happens from time to time.”
Most AEP Ohio customers still do not have smart meters. Regulators gave consumers the right to opt-out of the smart meters; electric customers typically cite privacy issues for refusing the meters, which provide more information on usage to utilities, although few actually refuse.
The company installed 132,000 smart meters in a four-year test that ended two years ago. In late 2013 AEP (NYSE:AEP) said it plans to expand its GridSmart system to 894,000 more Ohio customers.
The Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel and fellow consumer group Ohio Partners for Affordable Energy didn’t sign on the March settlement, arguing that AEP would not be burdened by customers’ keeping traditional meters.
“OCC estimates that AEP Ohio would miss only about $23,000 per year in revenue. On the other hand, the harm to customers – who would have their electric bills increase by $288 per year – would be significant,” it said in a filing.
AEP says it needs the charge to pay for meter readers it otherwise wouldn’t need to read standard meters.