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.
“Hopefully, people will see the advantage of having a secure web portal to see their energy usage patterns,” Whiteford said. “We expect to devise programs for people to take advantage of programs like peak-time pricing.”
Once PSO's rollout of smart meters is complete by the end of 2016, Oklahoma will be among the top states for percentage of households with smart meters.
About 822,000 residential customers in Oklahoma had smart meters in 2012, according to the federal Energy Information Administration. More than 77 percent of those were residential customers of Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co., with the rest from PSO's pilot program and electric cooperatives across the state.
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.