by JONATHAN BETZ / WFAA-TV
DALLAS — All Texas homes and businesses are slowly being switched over to “smart” electric meters.
The technology lets power suppliers and consumers track usage by remote control.
Oncor Electric Delivery has only installed about 740,000 of the 3.4 million smart meters planned for much of North and Central Texas, but from Killeen to Dallas, suspicions are high as bills soar.
Company officials say complaints are up 17 percent, and the utility recently held several public meetings in Killeen to calm angry customers.
Some Dallas residents who already have “smart” meters monitoring their power echo claims of higher electric bills. They believe the new meters are to blame, and they’re fighting back.
On Sunday afternoon, dozens of Oak Cliff homeowners gathered at Norma’s Diner to discuss the issue.
“It’s really good to know that I’m not alone,” said Oak Cliff resident Ree Wattner. “They’re not just doing that to me — they’re doing that to all of us.”
Oncor Electric Delivery assures consumers that the high-tech meters are working properly.
The utility says it has checked repeatedly and claims it found fewer than ten problem meters out of tens of thousands installed.
“By and large, both the old electro-mechanical and the new smart meters are highly accurate,” said Oncor spokeswoman Catherine Cuellar. “It’s not that peoples’ meters causing their high bills; it’s low temperatures that are causing the high bills.”
The company also found no mechanical problem with Ree Wattner’s new meter.
Still, folks like Michele Colbert are unconvinced. The bills at her father’s empty condo more than doubled after the digital meters were installed.
“The smart meters were installed and the bill went up… and there’s no one living there!” she said. “I’m very frustrated and I’m very angry.”
In an effort to ease customer concerns, Oncor brought employees to an Oak Cliff recreation center Sunday to discuss their bills.
Some of the electric users aren’t convinced; they’re ready to launch a campaign of sorts, going door-to-door to raise awareness and garner support — hoping that they can get enough residents with the same problem to convince Oncor that its “smart” meters aren’t so smart.