New electricity meters are coming to town; SWEPCO Pilot Program Launched in Bowie County with Customer Surcharge or Withdrawal Fee Options
Approximately 10,000 AEP / SWEPCO customers in Bowie County will be part of the pilot project this year for the utility’s advanced metering system.
The wireless system will use technology to provide customers with real-time energy consumption information and will also facilitate remote service connections and disconnections.
Michelle Marcotte, SWEPCO communications consultant, said the pilot program includes zip codes 75501 and 75503 from Texarkana, Wake Village, Nash, Red Lick, Red River Army Depot and New Boston.
Marcotte said the reason SWEPCO chose the Texarkana / Bowie County region as its launch in Texas for the smart meter system is because it is one of the largest cities and regions in SWEPCO services. of State.
“It includes a representative sample of customer categories – residential, industrial, commercial. We have a lot of different clients and a large majority are in Texarkana’s service territory. This will allow us to test the meters and see how they work, ”she said. noted.
The Bowie County pilot program is on track to start soon.
“We have just installed the communication network equipment which will be installed in the next few days, then the meters will be installed. The pilot program is expected to start this quarter,” she said.
The new counters will be placed where the existing members are currently.
SWEPCO filed a plan with the Texas Public Utilities Commission on August 4 to deploy the new metering system in its service area.
“We have submitted our entire proposal to the Texas Regulatory Commission. It should be submitted to them in January, with the hearing process hopefully completed by the end of the quarter and starting with a full rollout in the second. quarter (of 2022), ”she said.
All of Texarkana, Texas will be among the cities in the first phase of full deployment as SWEPCO plans to move east to west to install the new meters. Texarkana and Bowie County are among the easternmost service areas in Texas.
“We don’t have a date for Texarkana, Arkansas. However, we hope to have all of our customers on AMS by the end of 2025,” she said, adding that SWEPCO will need to make a proposal and get approval from the respective authorities of each state. regulatory commission.
SWEPCO’s proposal to the Texas utility agency includes a surcharge for the new metering system as well as for customers who opt out of the program.
Pending approval of the PUCT, the surcharge would be $ 2.92 per month for residential customers for the first four years and $ 2.42 for the following four years. It would start in April 2022. The surcharge for other fare classes varies and expires after four years, according to a press release from SWEPCO.
The plan also includes a provision for customers to “opt out” and opt for a non-standard meter, with one-off fees offered ranging from $ 131.68 to $ 233.39 depending on the option chosen, and a monthly fee. recurring offers for the customer of $ 22.97, according to the press release.
Marcotte said the new smart meters will not allow SWEPCO to perform gradual blackouts or brownouts in single-family homes.
“For the individual meter, we can connect and disconnect remotely. But any kind of service interruption would be done by the circuit and this (smart meter) doesn’t have that capability,” she said. “If we had to make repairs and limit service or take a circuit offline, it would be through the circuit and not through the individual home.”
The new meters are intended to replace obsolete meters for which SWEPCO can no longer procure or obtain parts.
The smart meter system has been installed in Eureka Springs, Arkansas and this transition has gone smoothly, she said.