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CPS Energy charging $20 per month to opt out of smart meters

Customers frustrated with fees

SAN ANTONIO – CPS Energy is rolling out their new smart meters one neighborhood at a time.

"It's going to provide customers with a portal or website where they can go online and see what their energy usage is on the next-day basis," said CPS Energy spokesman John Moreno.

The new meters will enable CPS Energy to read the meter remotely without having to walk up to it, something Moreno said will save the company thousands of dollars.

If customers opt out of the smart meter, they will still get a new digital meter. It will not require a meter reader on foot, but it will require a drive-by reader meter, which is why CPS Energy will be charging those customers an opt-out fee.

"It's vehicle maintenance, it's a labor cost, (then) there's the safety issue of sending someone out there, so those costs are still something that CPS Energy needs to recover," Moreno said.

At $20 a month, it will cost each homeowner a total of $240 a year to opt out.

"It's not a number that we just made up. It's a number that we based on other industry practice numbers and that's why we came up with that fee," Moreno said.

Richard Cruz doesn't agree with a mandatory opt-out fee, especially given he doesn't have a choice in which energy company he uses.

"They have monopolized this (market) forever. I've never known anybody else who wants to come in and compete with CPS Energy, and that kind of forces people to only go with what they offer you," Cruz said.

Moreno denied that the utility is trying to force customers' hands in agreeing to switch over to the smart meters.

"We're simply wanting to ensure the network is going to work the way we expect it to work," Moreno said.

Depending on where you live, the sign-up or pay-up plan may come sooner than later.

For a link to the rollout plan map, click here.