(June 26, 2020)
The Public Utility Commission (PUC) has made changes to smart meter rules that allow customers take advantage of new technologies to manage energy costs. Although the decision doesn’t go as far as allowing consumers to monitor their usage in real time, they can now request on-demand readings from their electricity provider.
Whereas an on-demand reading provides an overall snapshot of energy consumption in a customer’s home or business, real-time technology allows constant monitoring of fluctuations in energy costs and usage. Supporters of real-time monitoring say it can help customers save costs by turning off appliances when energy prices go up or setting them to run when prices decline.
A previous version of the PUC’s proposal suggested imposing a cap on the number of on-demand readings consumers can request. But this was removed in a decision welcomed by the Texas chapter of the Sierra Club.
The new rule “is much improved from its previous version, although it still falls short of assuring that Texas consumers who have paid for and will continue to pay for smart meters through rates have sufficient access to real-time or near real-time data to better control their energy use,” according to the Sierra Club’s Cyrus Reed.