Why many state regulators still have qualms about endorsing smart meters.
Bruce W. Radford is publisher of Public Utilities Fortnightly.
A year ago, in its formal investigation of state policy on smart meters, the Florida Public Service Commission conceded that while three of the state’s five major investor-owned electric utilities offered an optional time-of-use rate to residential customers, participation in fact remained “typically quite small,” averaging only about 1 percent.
“This is most likely,” the commission ruled, “because the broad on-peak periods are difficult to avoid for most households.” In Florida, the typical TOU tariff charges higher peak prices from noon to 9 p.m. in summer, and between 6 and 9 a.m. and 6 and 10 p.m. in winter.
Nevertheless, despite this apparent lack of success, the PSC saw its approval of TOU rate options as “ample proof of our continued commitment” to demand response and time-based pricing for residential electric customers. With such policy already on the books, the commission saw no reason to go further. Thus, as many other states have done, it declined to adopt the new uniform federal standard on utility smart metering, otherwise known as the “time-based metering and communications standard,” or “PURPA Standard 14” for short, as enacted by Congress in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct). (See Fla.P.S.C. Order No. PSC-07-0212, Docket No. 070022-EU, issued March 7, 2007.)