CenterPoint Energy files agreement to deploy interactive meters across entire footprint over next five years

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Tom Standish,
Regulated Operations
Group President,
CenterPoint Energy
 
Houston, TX, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — December 15, 2008 – CenterPoint Energy, Inc.’s electric transmission and distribution subsidiary, CenterPoint Energy Houston Electric, yesterday filed with the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC) a settlement agreement, which includes a plan to deploy an advanced metering system (AMS) across its service territory over the next five years.

The agreement is subject to review and approval by the PUC. The company anticipates that it could begin installing meters as early as March 1, 2009, if the plan is approved by the end of 2008.

“This new metering technology is the first step in moving the electric grid into the digital age,” said Tom Standish, regulated operations group president for CenterPoint Energy. “This innovative technology should encourage greater energy conservation by giving Houston-area electric consumers the ability to better monitor and manage their electric use and its cost in near real-time.”

Initially, these meters would provide the capability for remote meter reading. Beginning in September 2009, functionality of the meters will be expanded to provide the ability to remotely connect and disconnect electric service, which should significantly reduce the time required for customers to have new electric service connected, and eventually reduce the time to switch retail electric provides (REPs). The meters will also be able to function interactively with compatible home area network devices, allowing consumers to remotely operate thermostats and other electric appliances.

CenterPoint Energy does not send electric bills to end-use consumers, but is responsible for meter reading and maintaining service reliability to more than two million electric customers in the Houston area.

“We’re confident that over the long run AMS will prove beneficial to end-use consumers, retail electric providers, and as importantly, the environment, by promoting greater energy awareness and conservation,” said Standish.

The interactive meters are expected to improve consumer awareness of their electric consumption, allowing them to be better informed about when they use energy. The meters will also enable REPs to offer new products and services to their customers, such as prepaid electric service, time-of-use rates, and other energy management services.

By this settlement, the company would recover the cost for the interactive meters through a monthly surcharge to all REPs over 12 years. The surcharge for each residential consumer for the first 24 months, beginning in February 2009, will be $3.24 per month; thereafter, the surcharge is scheduled to be reduced to $3.05 per month. CenterPoint Energy projects capital expenditures of approximately $640 million for the installation of the interactive meters and corresponding communication and data management systems over the five-year deployment period.

The surcharge also includes $7.5 million to provide in-home monitors for low income customers and $5.6 million for consumer education on how to use the meters.