Commissioner wants review of utility metering following school issue

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Published: April 11,2013

Tags: billing, education school, gas, light, meter, metering, power, state agency, utility

JACKSON— Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley is requesting a formal review of Mississippi’s electric utilities’ metering policies and procedures.

The Public Utilities Staff will work in conjunction with Commission staff to conduct the review, which will cover both investor owned utilities and electric power associations, according to a release from Presley’s office.

Over the past year, Presley says he has witnessed a growing problem with over billing and under billing of customers due to problems with meters.  “When a customer buys electricity, the meter is the cash register.  I want to ensure that the register is accurate, and that customers are being charged only for what they use,” Presley said.

The Commissioner expects that examination of current policies will produce recommendations for a much more effective monitoring process by the Commission.

The review will encompass issues such as the frequency of meter testing, how utilities correct problems with meters and how utilities report metering issues to the Commission, among others. In addition, the Commission’s current rules on metering will be vetted to ensure that its requirements are actually safeguarding customers. Rules and policies from states with more robust metering oversight will be considered for adoption in Mississippi.

Presley’s request comes after the discovery that an Entergy meter error cost Hernando High School around a million dollars over the last decade.  In addition to problems with the meter, the situation has highlighted the need for new Commission rules on fair compensation to customers when a utility’s metering processes fail. Presley claims he had to push Entergy to pay the school interest of over $236,000 after the company originally expressed unwillingness to do so.

Currently, there exists no Commission rules regarding the payment of interest on customer over billing, Presley said he expects the formal review will produce a proposal for such a rule that he will propose to the full Commission in its June meeting,

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