Does it make sense to deregulate utility meters before knowing how (or if) competition will work in the electricity industry? Or is it better to wait, to get a better idea of what customers will want, need and be willing to buy?
After all, the point is to give better choices to consumers. Shouldn't they have a say?
To open electric metering to competition implies standardization - collecting groups of engineers and scientists to approve technical standards for data formats and telecommunications protocols to achieve some degree of interoperability for equipment and software. It means creating a brand new industry virtually from scratch. That can prove tough to do without some input from the market.
Before Arizona regulators opened metering to competition, Arizona Public Service Co. had fought the idea, finding it "fraught with complexities." In Illinois, regulators and utilities have apparently decided to put meter deregulation on hold, figuring that it's difficult enough to introduce retail choice itself. That news comes from Arlene Juracek, vice president for access implementation (utilispeak for "competition") at Commonwealth Edison, who hosted a media roundtable for energy reporters in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 26. She admitted, however, that the unregulated marketers were not all keen on the idea of utility metering.