Not far from the City of Naperville, where smart meter opposition is in full force, customers in Chicago have filed a class action suit against ComEd due to smart meter delay! No, this is not a tardy April Fool’s joke. Several ComEd customers allege the Company violated an Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) order that called for smart meter installation to begin by fall 2012, yet ComEd unilaterally pushed back deployment until 2015.
To cover the Smart Grid upgrades, in 2011 ComEd filed for a formula rate increase of $1.915 billion with the ICC. When the ICC reduced that amount by $168 million, ComEd filed an Application for Rehearing (Docket No. 12-0298) to delay installation of smart meters due to financial constraints caused by the Formula Rate Order. ComEd’s original smart meter plan included the installation of 500,000 new smart meters on Chicago’s South and West sides by 2013. The suit says ComEd’s decision to not install the smart meters while the Application for Rehearing was pending cost customers about $182 million in savings and other benefits they would have received had deployment occurred according to the original schedule. (Attention utilities: This figure was taken from ComEd’s testimony regarding lost benefits due to delayed deployment.) In December of 2012, the ICC approved ComEd’s revised schedule allowing smart meter deloyment to be delayed until 2015.
The suit is an interesting change of pace from those cases around the country and even in ComEd’s own backyard (Naperville) where customers are rejecting smart meters and seeking to ban smart meter deployment. I guess ComEd customers were listening during the debate to get the Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act enacted.