Rising home energy prices are squeezing household budgets, especially for those with low and fixed incomes. Nationwide, average electricity prices have increased by 29 percent since 2000, while consumption of electricity has increased 17 percent in the same period. Both prices and consumption are expected to continue increasing (U.S. Energy Information Administration)
Without help with their utility bills, both during the coldest months of winter and in the scorching heat of summer, many families will be forced to choose between paying for food and medicine and making their homes livable.
Pepco is installing smart meters in the District of Columbia to improve reliability and save money for utility consumers and the power company. Pepco’s plan is to install some 250,000 meters by December 2011.
Smart metering devices track and report utility use in ways that allow consumers and utility companies to better control power costs. Consumers will have the opportunity to use power at times when it costs less, once new pricing plans are phased in over several years. Pepco’s operational costs will decrease in several ways, such as using smart meter technology to read meters remotely.
On the other hand, some consumers may not be able to take advantage of the potential to cut their utility costs, such as those who use life-sustaining medical equipment and those who already limit power usage as much as possible. Also, vulnerable populations need protection from adverse consequences such as paying an undue portion of the cost of installing smart meters.
Hear from utility experts and local officials at AARP DC’s smart meters forum in March, 2011. Results of a recent AARP DC survey of local residents on smart metering will be discussed at the forum. Get details on the forum on the AARP DC blog or call the State Office at 202-434-7700.
The AARP District of Columbia State Office represents consumers on the District’s Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) Task Force, which is developing a comprehensive public education plan that should address these questions and more. Volunteer as an advocate working with AARP DC on issues such as smart metering by contacting the District of Columbia State Office at 202-434-7700.
Read about smart meters or the District of Columbia installation process on the DC Public Service Commission web site. Call Pepco at 202-833-7500 for questions about installation.