Entergy Mississippi will be making the move from old-style meters to new, advanced meters over the next few years, prompting an uptick in their rates beginning in 2018.
When the updates are completed by 2021, Entergy customers should be paying about $3.25 a month more, the utility said.
The utility expects it will take until 2021 to install all 445,000 advanced meters — one for each of its customers in the 45 Mississippi counties it serves. Entergy officials said they plan to install 128,000 meters per year.
Installation of the advanced meters sis set to begin in early 2019 and will take about three years to complete. The project will cost Entergy $136 million, including implementation, the utility said.
The Mississippi Public Service Commission earlier this month granted Entergy Mississippi permission to carry out the rate increase for the update.
Commission Chairman Brandon Presley said updating the meters will allow Entergy customers to look at their energy use and manage it in real time.
“(It’s) much like how you would manage the fuel tank in your car,” Presley said. “There is undisputed evidence that the more information customers get about how much electricity they’re using, they tend to use less.”
“This is an early investment of a very light rate impact to be able to garner long-term savings that will deeply affect the cost of living in Mississippi and drive down the actual power bill of Mississippians,” he said.
Entergy spokeswoman Mara Hartmann said the new meters will help speed up and improve power restoration after big outages.
The advanced meters will also provide more accurate and complete data, and lead to less operational and maintenance costs because tasks can be done remotely and electronically, rather than manually, such as routine meter readings, Hartmann said.
“There will be no more customer calls for outages to our call center as the meters will notify us immediately,” Hartmann said. “These meters also eliminate theft of electricity and meter tampering — we will know right away if the meter is being compromised. ”
“Finally, we won’t have to dispatch trucks for some restoration activities or for turning service on or off, as we’ll be able to handle that remotely,” she said.
In late 2019, Entergy customers can expect another roughly $0.13 monthly charge once the utility finishes modernizing its power infrastructure in Attala County.
That project’s total estimated cost is $28.1 million. However, Tennessee Valley Authority and NRG Energy share those costs, so the portion reflected in future Entergy rates is $11.8 million.
The work will take place on its two auto-transformer banks at its McAdams substation, the utility said. One of the existing auto-transformers to be replaced at the substation will be moved to the Lakeover substation and is expected to be installed by June 2020.