What is Smart Meter Infrastructure?
Smart meters, sometimes known as advanced meters, are digital versions of the traditional electrical meter attached to the outside of your home or business. Smart meters can be read, and turned on and off, remotely. Smart meters have helped energy companies across the country keep power flowing by pinpointing outages. They also let customers track their own electricity use. PNM has filed a proposal with the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (NMPRC) to allow for smart meters to be installed at our customer's homes and businesses. Public hearings are scheduled at the PRC in Santa Fe from February 27 through March 3, 2017. We expect a decision by the end of 2017. PNM will not move forward with the smart meter proposal without NMPRC approval.
Technology has evolved over the years
PNM is proposing to invest in smart meter infrastructure because everyone will benefit from the company operating more efficiently. These smart meters will also allow us to offer more programs and services for our customers, including the ability to monitor and adjust energy use in near real-time.
These enhancements include:
- The ability to monitor and better manage electricity use
- The ability for customers to pick their own payment date.
- Immediate service connection and disconnection.
- The ability for customers to set up usage alerts and take control over their use and their monthly bills.
- Alerting PNM when your power goes out - making power restoration faster.
- No more access issues for meter readings and moves (privacy and safety).
If the NMPRC approves the proposal, PNM would begin a full rollout of smart meters beginning in 2018, with installation continuing through mid-2019. PNM estimates approximately 531,000 new meters would be installed during this time.
No layoffs are imminent, but we do anticipate there will be some job losses once the smart meter project nears completion. We estimate approximately 125 positions will be affected due to the project. Some positions will be eliminated through attrition when employees leave or retire. Other affected employees may apply for and fill vacant positions, while others may be retrained to perform smart meter-specific tasks. We expect jobs will be reduced over a period of one to two years as the smart meter project is deployed. Reductions would not likely begin until sometime in 2018.
If approved, the smart meter project would cost customers an additional $5 per year on average, starting in 2020 and ending in approximately 2024. After 2024, the savings will be more than the project costs. PNM's research shows that over the life of the meters (20 years), customers will see a savings of about $21 million in rates. The cost savings would come primarily from a reduction in related positions, increased operational efficiencies, fewer vehicles and fuel costs and other administrative cost areas.
PNM has asked the NMPRC to allow customers who do not want a smart meter to opt out of the program. Because these customers would have a non-standard account and meter, an opt-out fee is necessary in order to continue taking manual readings and responding to account changes, such as connection and disconnection requests. The proposed opt-out fees are based on the actual costs to continue servicing those accounts with non-smart meters as we do currently.
The proposed opt-out fees are as follows:
One-time opt-out fee:
- Before smart meter installation: $35
- After smart meter installation: $60 - this includes uninstalling the smart meter and re-installing the old-style electric meter.
Opt-out monthly fee:
- $46.96, which covers the cost to manually read the meter and generate a bill.