PUCO adopts recommendations on AMI, net metering


Alan  Schriber,
COLUMBUS, OH, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — March 29, 2007 – The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) yesterday adopted recommendations to further investigate AMI and demand response and to expand net metering, following a year-long investigation and consultation in response to the Federal Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005).

Noting that demand response is enabled by three factors – metering technology that records usage on a time differentiated basis, a rate structure that allows customers to respond to time sensitive price signals, and a billing system that allows the provider to account for the time differentiated pricing and usage – and that the EPAct requires that electric distribution utilities (EDUs) offer all customers a time differentiated rate, the PUCO says in its finding that all EDUs should offer tariffs to all customer classes which are, at a minimum, differentiated according to on and off-peak wholesale periods. Moreover time-of-use meters should be made available to customers subscribing to these tariffs.

The PUCO also recommends that an analysis should be undertaken on the cost benefit of AMI deployment strategies, including a review of the system benefits that may accrue to the EDUs, the customer benefits and the societal benefits. Issues for review should include class of service availability, deployment, customer commitment, customer education, cost recovery and cost allocations. In order to assess the choices of metering and telemetry equipment a single list of technologies with associated costs and capabilities, or if appropriate, a list of technology types or categories with associated cost range, should be developed. There should also be a comprehensive review of cost recovery mechanisms to ensure that those benefiting from AMI pay a share of its costs.

In terms of the finding Ohio’s EDUs are now required within 30 days to file copies of the sections of their tariffs that include daily time sensitive rates and a comprehensive list of AMI technologies and corresponding costs. Thereafter PUCO staff will schedule a series of technical conferences to discuss further associated issues and cost sharing and recovery mechanisms (e.g. each EDU’s detailed AMI business case analysis), and on the basis of these develop recommendations.

Net metering
Noting that net metering is governed under the Ohio Revised Code, only certain aspects, including the definition of eligible fuels, limits on the size of microturbines used for net metering, and customer crediting issues were reviewed.

Among its findings the PUCO agreed that the technologies allowed for net metering should be expanded and the rules regarding customer credits for interconnection should be reviewed.

In a statement PUCO Chairman Alan R. Schriber said that the EPAct 2005 provided an opportunity for the Commission to explore important issues as it works to promote advanced energy initiatives in Ohio. “The recommendations we have adopted not only address the requirements of EPAct 2005, but also identify opportunities for Ohio to adapt to the evolving energy environment and expand upon Ohio’s comprehensive energy strategy.”

The Ohio Consumers’ Council (OCC) has expressed its support for the recommendations, saying that these would help remove some of the obstacles that have prevented more Ohio residents and businesses from receiving pricing options and generating renewable electricity. “The OCC hopes the PUCO decision sets the groundwork for more action to be taken. This decision needs to be a beginning, not an end.”