Smart meters increase costs to consumer now will it decrease rates later?
Anthony Brino | Illinois Statehouse News
SPRINGFIELD — Commonwealth Edison, northern Illinois’ electricity utility, unveiled plans Monday to install 4 million digital smart meters during the next decade.
Smart meters record energy usage, displaying the information for homeowners and transmitting the data back to the utility.
Anne Pramaggiore, president and CEO of Commonwealth Edison, or ComEd, said in a news release that "customers will be able to see for themselves the benefits of this exciting technology as they take greater control over their energy consumption."
The smart meters are expected to increase annual electricity costs by an average of $36 annually for ComEd customers and $3.40 for customers of Ameren, southern Illinois’ utility.
But over time the smart meters will pay for themselves, as consumers and the utility reduce wasted electricity, said David Kolata, executive director of the Illinois Consumer Utility Board.
Although the Consumer Utility Board opposed last year's legislation permitting the smart meters and allowing Ameren and ComEd to raise rates to pay for $3.2 billion in grid upgrades, Kolata said he's "cautiously optimistic" about ComEd's plan.
While ComEd's 10-year time frame to install the smart meters is too long, Kolata said, it's "significantly better" than Ameren’s, unveiled earlier this month. Ameren only plans to install smart meters for about 60 percent of its customers.
According to ComEd, a subsidiary of the Chicago-based Exelon Corporation, the smart meters will help reduce power outages by 20 percent over the next 10 years and reduce theft by 50 percent.