Smart meters open the door to advance billing.
Scott M. Gawlicki is Fortnightly’s contributing editor based in Hartford, Ct. Email him at: email@example.com.
Investor-owned utility (IOU) executives have long understood the benefits of prepaid metering, but an assortment of technical and regulatory roadblocks have prevented implementation on a major scale.
In March, Phoenix-based Arizona Public Service (APS), Arizona’s largest and longest-serving electricity utility, asked the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) for permission to conduct a prepaid metering pilot as part of its ongoing AMI and direct response (DR) initiatives.
To enable the pilot, APS needs the ACC to waive some of its disconnect notification requirements for those who participate. Further, APS has asked for authorization to extend the program to “all eligible customers” once it has demonstrated the “technical feasibility and customer functionality” of the pre-pay option.
In May, Detroit-based DTE Energy made a similar request with the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC). It too is asking regulators to waive certain disconnect notification requirements—they vary by state—so it can conduct a similar, though much smaller, prepaid pilot with residential, commercial and industrial customers. DTE also intends to extend the offering to all customers if the pilot results are positive.