Special auditor to review Entergy smart meters after Brittany Weiss On Your Side Investigation
BATON ROUGE - Amid a series of WBRZ 2 On Your Side reports, state regulators said Wednesday, they will hire a special investigator to review Entergy smart meters.
The Public Service Commission is spearheading the investigation and hopes to have the investigator hired soon. Complaints about the meters have poured into the PSC and the 2 On Your Side consumer complaint department.
The advanced meters have been installed in waves through Louisiana starting in 2018. Recently, in the Greater Baton Rouge area, Entergy customers started complaining about drastic increases in bills after the meters were swapped with an older unit on homes or buildings.
Deanna Charett told 2 On Your Side in January, her $344 bill was the highest bill ever received from Entergy. Her neighbors in Fairlane Farms also reported a sharp increase.
"I noticed, talking to people in the subdivision via Facebook groups and other things like that, that everything has jumped for [the billing month]," Charett told Brittany Weiss.
Charett said that bill came shortly after her new Entergy meter was installed. WBRZ quickly learned she wasn't alone. Willie Mae Hall said in another Brittany Weiss investigation, in the 15 years she's lived in her Walker home, her $381 bill was the highest ever received. Hall also complained her bill came soon after a new so-called smart meter was installed.
The Public Service Commission has been taking calls from Entergy customers and Chairman Craig Greene said the PSC is looking into them. The Commission is finalizing a Request for Proposal for a third party engineer who will be hired in May or June. That engineer will handle the state-wide investigation into the new Entergy meters.
"When dealing with technology belonging to the utility, the complexity of figuring out if there is an issue or what that issue may be, lends this to be an ongoing process," said Greene. "However, the LPSC is still actively working toward getting accurate answers."
A couple of months ago, Entergy said a cold December likely brought on those high bills.
"Customers are seeing higher usage on their January bills due to the really cold temperatures in December," said Vice President of Entergy Customer Service Melonie Stewart.
The smart, or advanced meters, allow users to monitor their electric usage by the day. Entergy has said that in some cases older meters that have been running for a long time can become less steadfast. If a customer got a new meter, there's a possibility that their older meter was reading under the actual usage.