Public Service Co. of Oklahoma will spend about $120 million in the next three years to roll out smart meters to more than 520,000 electricity customers, the utility said Monday.
PSO plans to start installation in its eastern and southeastern customer territories by the end of 2014. Tulsa and its northern customer areas will get smart meters in 2015, with the western and southwestern parts of PSO customer territory getting them in 2016, said spokesman Stan Whiteford.
Tulsa-based PSO has more than 540,000 customers in eastern and southwestern Oklahoma.
PSO customers in Owasso, Sand Springs, Okmulgee and the University of Tulsa already have smart meters as part of the utility's pilot programs.
“The program has already helped many customers in our pilot areas control their energy usage and has led to greater customer satisfaction,” said Derek Lewellen, PSO's smart meter manager.
Whiteford said the costs of the smart meter installations likely will be added to PSO's rate base after completion. In that case, they would be recovered from customers through a rate review at the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.
Whiteford said the utility will reach out to customers to explain the benefits of smart meters, which include more timely information about electricity usage and faster customer service with remote connections and disconnections. The installation also means PSO can get better information about service interruptions.
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There has been opposition to the installation of smart meters from a small, but vocal, number of customers who are concerned about the health effects of radio frequency signals from smart meters. Some states have allowed customers to opt out, but Oklahoma is not among them. The industry said its research shows smart meters emit weaker signals than other consumer products such as cellphones, baby monitors and microwaves.