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US utility Florida Power & Light (FPL) is rolling out smart meters to commercial users as the next phase of its US$870 million service-area wide rollout.

FPL is spending US$70 million to install 200,000 smart meters to large businesses including restaurants, schools and shops, according to West Palm Beach news.

Spokesman Dave McDermitt said the smart meters manufactured by Landis & Gyr are being installed by Honeywell, Utility Sales & Service and FPL's Field Metering Group.

Installations to large business customers in Palm Bach County began in July and are expected to be completed by the end of the year, said FPL spokesman.

The meters are due to come online by late March 2015, Mr McDermitt confirmed.

In 2015, the energy company's 6,000 largest power users such as manufacturing plants, large grocery stores, hospitals and universities will also receive smart meters. McDermitt said the cost of that has not been calculated yet.

FPL completed a deployment of 4.5 million residential smart meters at a cost US$800 million in 2009 using GE technology.

Opt-out fees

In June, FPL began charging customers who don't want a smart meter US$13 a month plus a US$95 enrolment fee to be included in its 'non­standard meter option'.

Business and commercial customers who decline a smart meter will be charged the same fees, McDermitt said.

The number of FPL customers who have opted out of smart meters has dropped to 6,570 in recent months ­­ 0.14 percent of its 4.6 million customers.