- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 23, 2014

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - An administrative law judge is considering a $120 million plan for American Electric Power-Public Service Co. of Oklahoma to install smart meters statewide amid concerns from the AARP that the utility hasn’t proven the project will be cost-effective.

The utility wants install more than 500,000 meters statewide, which would increase residential customers’ monthly bills by about $3.11 through 2015, followed by a 30-cent monthly rise in 2016.

At a hearing Tuesday, representatives with AARP spoke against the plan, arguing the utility didn’t provide data from its pilot project in Owasso that could prove the cost-benefit analysis, The Tulsa World reported Wednesday (http://bit.ly/UnIbfy ). The AARP represents retirees and says many older Oklahoma residents already struggle to pay their monthly utility bills.

“We weren’t able to find evidence that this is a great deal for ratepayers,” said Sean Voskuhl, state director of AARP. “There’s a lot of interest in smart meters, but unfortunately PSO wasn’t able to back it up with facts.”

But AEP-PSO spokesman Stan Whiteford disagreed, saying the meters will cut costs associated with manual meter reading and allow for remote connects and disconnects. The new meters would also allow customers to decide how to allocate their electricity use based on peak and off-peak rates.

“The opportunity for customers to save will be there once the meters are installed,” Whiteford said. “They will have information available to them they’ve never had before.”

Administrative Law Judge Jacqueline Miller could make her recommendation after a filing deadline Aug. 22. After that, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission must approve the plan.

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Information from: Tulsa World, http://www.tulsaworld.com