PEC Comments on HB1563, HB1564, HB165, HB1566

The Pennsylvania Environmental Council sent the following communication to Representative Reese, the primary sponsor of House Bills 1563-1566.

June 26, 2017

Dear Representative Reese,

On behalf of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, we are writing to share our thoughts regarding HB 1563 (P.N. 2042), HB 1564 (P.N. 2043), HB 1565 (P.N. 2044), and HB 1566 (P.N. 2045).

Our thoughts on each bill are as follows:

  • HB 1563 – It has been our experience, based on work to complete greenhouse gas inventories and implement energy efficiency programs, that utility companies will not release individual meter data without written customer consent. We support the intent of this bill to codify what we believe is already done in practice. Further, the specific language allowing blocks of data to be released in aggregate may facilitate energy efficiency and other sustainability programs. We believe this bill provides adequate protection to consumers concerned with data breaches.
  • HB 1564 – We do not support allowing electric distribution company (EDCs) customers the opportunity to “opt-out” of meter installation. Electricity meters are an important part of the overall distribution system, rather than a feature only for use by that individual customer. By opting out, a customer impacts the entire system. This legislation would likely create gaps in the electricity distribution network by creating a patchwork of outdated equipment, particularly since many EDCs are already well into the process of incorporating smart meters into their systems (please see below).
  • HB 1565– We oppose repealing the requirement for EDCs to install smart meters. Smart meters have many benefits. Some of these are specific to the individual meter, such as allowing the ratepayer to better understand and manage their energy usage to save money; but others rely on system-wide deployment, like improvements in reliability, power supply quality, and outage response, by continuously providing data to the utility on the distribution system.Smart meter technology can also unlock the potential for alternative rate structures, such as time-based pricing or demand-response programs. However, the ability to introduce those types of programs relies on deployment at scale.

    Further, smart meter deployment is well under way in the state, with most EDCs planning to complete installation in mid-2019. It does not make sense to backtrack on this requirement when implementation is over halfway complete. Because the smart meter requirement only applies to EDCs with greater than 100,000 customers, smaller companies for whom meter replacement may be a hardship are already excluded from the requirement.

  • HB 1566– Because this bill includes the “opt-out” provision and repeal of smart metering requirement, we do not support its adoption.

Thank you for the opportunity to share our thoughts and concerns on this legislation. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss these issues further.