Senate Energy Bill Update #20 (Smart Metering)

July 9, 2003
12:00 AM
Consumers have the potential to save money on their electricity bills if utilities install “smart meters.” That’s because the price of producing electricity varies at different times of the day. By shifting some of their energy usage from higher-priced “peak” periods to lower-priced “off-peak” periods, residential and business customers alike can save money on their utility bills. The ability to allow customers to take advantage of price differences for electricity is called demand response. The key to allowing this flexibility is in new metering technologies that measure and record data in a way that a “smart” electricity grid requires. Without newer, more sophisticated meters, electricity providers cannot offer time-differentiated prices. The vast majority of electricity meters in American homes and businesses use decades-old technology. These basic meters must be read by a meter-reader, do not measure anything other than gross consumption and otherwise provide no meaningful data. But more advanced meters cost more than older meters, and a tax incentive is needed to offset part of the cost differential. The result can be a more reliable, less costly and more optimized electricity system that benefits both the American consumer as well as the electricity provider. That’s why Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) today filed an amendment to the Senate energy bill, S. 14, that would restore a temporary $30 tax incentive for every meter that uses the new technology. The deduction was eliminated from the Senate Energy Tax Bill during mark-up by the Finance Committee earlier this year, and restoring it would be good for consumers and good energy policy for the nation. # # #