Some residents blame smart meters for high energy bills, Entergy responds

Updated: Jul. 18, 2019 at 10:18 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Some Entergy customers are concerned a new piece of equipment could be causing their power bills to skyrocket. Since the company installed smart meters in parts of Jefferson and Orleans Parishes, they say they’ve seen their bills double.

The Bagbys want an explanation.

“This month my bill was $312.29,” said Stanley Bagby.

“I was furious,” Rhonda Bagby said.

Their power bill more than doubled from June to July.

“This is the highest my bill I have ever seen,” Stanley said.

When the Harahan residents compared this year’s usage to July of last year, they found a 33-percent increase.

“It hasn’t been that much hotter,” said Stanley.

“It was hot last year, too. I work outdoors so, I know it’s hot every year.”

Stanley says he can think of only one variable to explain the drastic discrepancy.

“I am concerned that something with this new smart meter is reading different from the previous meters,” he said.

“These meters are accurate. They’re more accurate, probably, than the legacy meters,” said Entergy New Orleans’s Vice President of Customer Service Sandra Diggs-Miller.

“Sometimes those old legacy meters might not pick up all of the electricity you’re actually using, is that correct?” asked Fox 8.

“That is a possibility. And some of the older meters, as with time, it gets slower with time. These advanced meters are just that, they are more accurate in being able to determine real time usage of the customer,” explained Diggs-Miller.

Yet, Diggs-Miller says there’s more to it than that. She says higher bills are likely a combination of multiple factors, including weather and usage, in addition to the advanced accuracy of new meters.

“Whether it’s coincidental that it’s higher at this time after we had a hot month, that’s something that remains to be seen. But, I would say these advanced meters offer a lot of benefits. We believe they can offer a lot of benefits to our customers,” Diggs-Miller said.

Once these systems go online, she says customers will be able to monitor usage in real time.

“You will be able to see how some of these appliances are affecting your usage so, that’s the important thing we think customers will enjoy,” said Diggs-Miller.

For now, folks like the Bagbys are still searching for answers regarding their recent surge in usage.

“Something has definitely got to give,” Rhonda said.

Stanley has already been trying to track this month’s usage, using what Entergy Louisiana says was a manual reading July 11.

“It's going to be well over $300. It's going to be even more than this one which I thought was very high,” he said.

Representatives with Entergy New Orleans say they are still using manual readers to ensure accuracy during this smart meter transition.

Entergy New Orleans and Entergy Louisiana are on similar tracks. They both hope to have all advanced meters online by the end of 2020.

Until then, Diggs-Miller suggests you closely monitor usage in the summer months, keeping in mind-- for every degree below 78 your air conditioner is set, it raises your bill by three percent.

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