Minnesota regulators do not approve CenterPoint’s proposed investment in advanced meters

Published May 18, 2021

I recently wrote a blog about CenterPoint Energy’s petition to begin installing smart meters at the homes and businesses of its Minnesota customers. Like any time a regulated utility asks to spend its customers’ money, this proposal required approval by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC). CUB recommended that the Commission deny the petition. On May 14, the Commission agreed with CUB and declined to approve the project.

In CUB’s comments to the PUC, we identified several reasons why CenterPoint fell far short in demonstrating how the purported benefits of the smart meters justify the $280 million estimated costs of the project. We also noted that many of the purported benefits of the meters would not be fully operational without additional investment (beyond $280 million) in an advanced communication system. While CenterPoint shareholders would likely earn a rate of return on the investment, CenterPoint had not provided nearly enough information about the potential benefits of the smart meters to indicate that investment would be worthwhile for customers.

During deliberations, one PUC Commissioner noted being persuaded by our written comments and agreed that CenterPoint had not met its burden of demonstrating that the benefits of the smart meter project outweigh its costs. We are pleased with this result. CenterPoint’s Minnesota customers should not be forced to foot the bill for substantial investments in technology that provides uncertain benefits. That is particularly true now, when CenterPoint’s Minnesota customers likely face a significant rate increase related to a price spike in the natural gas market that took place earlier this year.

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Author: Hannah Hoeger

One Response to "Minnesota regulators do not approve CenterPoint’s proposed investment in advanced meters"

  1. Bruce Arthur Harten Posted on June 8, 2021 at 11:57 am

    Regarding the ” Advanced Meters ” installation. The new meters will breakdown current flow, watt hours., voltage drop etc into many classes. ( SO IN THE FUTURE THEY CAN RAISE RATES ! ) There will be 208 volt inductive rates for Air conditioning loads, 208 volt resistive rates for heating systems, 120/208 volt resistive/inductive load rates for oven/microwave kitchen systems. Inductive load rates for water pumps, pool systems, sump pumps ect. ….a different rate for flourescent lighting versus incandescent These new meters will breakdown , and ” codefy ” every electric load on customers site from 100 amp resistive kitchen load to fractional wattage bedside clock ! So they can Itemize by ” Load Type and TIME of USAGE ” ! Its on the way and Nothing you can do bout it ! Solar systems tied in will also be reflected in higher rates ! Because the tech involved with the new meters SEE EVERY LOAD DIFFERENTLY AND REPORT IT THAT WAY !…..And NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT !……Bruce Harten Electrical Engineer

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