KIUC Seeks PUC Approval for Meter Charges
News Release from KIUC
Līhu‘e, Kaua‘i, HI – 10/02/13 – Kauaʻi Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) will ask the Hawaiʻi Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to approve a $10.27 monthly charge to customers who don’t use the utility’s standard meter, a wireless “smart meter.”
About 10 percent of the utility's 30,000 customers have opted not to use the smart meters. KIUC estimates the cost of reading and servicing those 3,000 meters to be about $340,000 a year. That works out to just under $1 a month for every one of the cooperative's members.
“We’ve said all along that we would calculate the cost of allowing customers to opt-out of the smart meter program,” said David Bissell, president and CEO of the cooperative. “Our members have made it clear they want us to keep their bills as low as possible, so rather than asking the entire membership to bear the labor-intensive cost of old technology, we believe it's fair to assign the cost to the members who have chosen to keep the old meters.”
The PUC, which would have to approve the charge, said in a recent decision on a related matter that it "supports an electric utility's efforts to recover the full costs of servicing non-standard meters."
The $10.27 monthly charge reflects the costs of sending a technician to a home or business to read the meter, as well as the required vehicles and equipment.
KIUC had previously asked the PUC to approve a one-time charge from customers who choose to replace their existing meter with a non-standard meter. This one-time charge covers the cost of installing and replacing these meters.
In a Sept. 27 decision, the PUC indicated that it preferred to review not only the one-time charge being proposed by KIUC, but also “all on-going costs to service non-standard meters.”
Based on this direction from the PUC, KIUC will seek approval of the monthly service charge on all customers with a non-standard meter, in addition to the one-time charge for customers who ask to switch to non-standard meters.
The one-time charge would be $50.64 for residential meters. Proposed one-time charges for non-standard commercial meters range from $65.64 to $138.80.
The charges proposed by KIUC are similar to those charged by utilities using smart meters on the Mainland. California utilities charge a $75 set-up fee and $10 a month to customers who opt-out. In Las Vegas, customers who opt-out pay a $52.86 set-up charge and $8.82 a month.
Smart meters use wireless technology to transmit data on electrical use. KIUC plans to introduce a free online portal that customers can use with their smart meter to track their electric use. Nearly 1,000 of KIUC’s customers already use a digital display that collects data from the smart meter to allow the customer to view their energy use in real-time.
PHOTO: An older-model digital meter among five smart meters in Lihue. A technician has to drive to this building to read this single meter every month, essentially canceling out the operational savings offered by the smart meter, which sends data directly to the KIUC office for billing.