According to City Data, Crucial Smart Meter Program Fails Expectations


Tallahassee Reports has learned that after seven years the “Nights and Weekends” smart grid program has failed to reach the customer participation levels required to make the $40 million smart meter investment cost-effective for taxpayers.

Also, it appears city staff has failed to publicly update elected officials on this finding. A search of city commission meetings and workshops shows no update on the “Nights and Weekends” program since approximately 2014.

In addition, the fact that the smart meter thermostats – which were trumpeted as a major component of the program – are still not available, raises serious questions about the cost-effectiveness of the $40 million program.

The latest information obtained by TR from the City of Tallahassee shows that after seven years of promoting the “Nights and Weekends” program, 2,574 people are currently enrolled.

The city’s projection for cost-effectiveness was 25,000 subscribers.

This projection was clearly presented to the city commission on March 28, 2007:

Staff does not expect operational savings alone to exceed the capital investment within the first 15 years of deployment. However with good customer participation (25% or more) in load control and pricing programs, staff expects that operational savings coupled with future avoided capital costs (associated with building new power plants) will exceed total program costs.

City officials based their analysis on the participation of 25,000 households or roughly 25% of all residential customers in pricing and load control programs. Without this level of participation the analysis shows that the program will not be cost effective.

The “Nights and Weekends” program was introduced as a way to price electricity during peak times instead of the same price all day long.  The thought was people would change their electricity usage behavior for lower rates and with enough participation the city would avoid building additional power plants and justify the cost of the $40 million investment in smart meters.

However, the data provided to Tallahassee Reports shows that since 2010, 6,892 have signed up for the program, while 4,318 have cancelled. As of May 2018, there are 2,574 accounts participating in the program.

The average time on the program for those who cancelled was calculated to be approximately 1.5 years.

The table below shows that the “Nights & Weekends” program has had more cancellations than new subscribers for 2016, 2017 and 2018.

The program peaked with 2,810 subscribers in 2015.

10 Responses to "According to City Data, Crucial Smart Meter Program Fails Expectations"

  1. Snidely Whiplash   May 13, 2018 at 8:14 am

    According to local citizens with even the smallest amount of common sense the smart meter program was from the start based on kick backs to John Marks and other corrupt locals in government and the private sector.
    According to local citizens with even the smallest amount of common sense the smart meter program IS an ongoing method of fleecing the local sheeple population out of more money in their utility billing while making it harder to see and feel the theft because…hey it’s all electronic – like a beloved ap on your smart phone…right????
    Here’s the genius in the program; you can not see or feel anyone fleecing your money behind the curtain of the smart meter program – so it must not be happening…right???

    Reply
  2. News Maven   May 13, 2018 at 9:10 am

    The N&W program is a scam, and the fact that so many have cancelled it is all the proof anyone needs. The daytime cost per kW wipes out the evenings “savings.”
    Send an invoice for $40M to “Honeywell John.”

    Reply
  3. Art Kirby   May 13, 2018 at 9:14 am

    The irony is building & running an electric utility and selling power is what the City does the best! In turn our property taxes are kept low and services are generally of a higher quality than other communities that rely solely on property tax millage.

    There is a lot of crowing about a municipal government running it’s own utility company opposed to a private, Big Power company like Florida Power and Light. Yet, when the issue is debated very few every realize the “how’s & why’s” behind this important symbiotic relationship our community has with our power company. Consider this single fact alone. The State, County and Federal government entities don’t pay into property tax. Neither do students, seasonal visitors and community guests from surrounding Counties. Yet, everyone enjoys the same access to quality services and amenities equal that of those who live here all year round. Many do contribute now every single time they come to visit and turn on a light switch!

    It’s a good thing if you ask me.

    Smart meter *can* be made to work if the program structure changes and the City brings back people like Michelle Bono who had the ability to teach & educate the community more effectively. The failure comes from poor communication and education. It’s time we demand different!

    Reply
  4. Vernon   May 13, 2018 at 12:20 pm

    City owned electric utilities can be made to work effectively…IF… the officials that oversee them continue to be good stewards of the taxpayers money, have a commitment to customer service, and keep corruption from creeping in…which in this case didnt happen.

    Tallahassee taxpayers are responsible for the $45,000,000.00 bill that was an experimental project, rushing into a contract without having any proof of concept, or any kind of recourse if it didnt work as expected. We allowed our mayor & commissioners to do this….by proxy at least. The only winners of course were Marks, his law firm and Honeywell.

    Next time you vote in local elections, realize they can be as consequential as state and national offices. There should be a clause in all contracts paid by taxpayers to clawback a portion if they fail to be executed as expected.

    Reply
  5. Tango247   May 13, 2018 at 4:49 pm

    I wonder if we can get the names of anyone who actually subscribed and see if they match up with anyone who advocated for the program? Simply asking, if you pushed this idea and were a n advocate for it, did you actually sign up for it and are you still signed up for it?
    If you won’t eat your own cooking…….

    Reply
  6. Chris   May 14, 2018 at 10:59 am

    I was a N&W subscriber for a little over a year. It saved me only about 2% compared to standard billing, and that was even after I took drastic/obsessive measures to curb daytime use.

    The problem is that in our hot climate, we use our A/C most of the year and the “On-Peak” hours are the hottest. Even when I set my thermostat to 80+ degrees, it would still run several hours a day. Once I returned to standard billing, I could keep my thermostat set to 74-75 degrees 24/7 and still have the same power bill. No brainer.

    Reply
    • Political Grunt   May 15, 2018 at 12:02 pm

      Chris, why would you cancel? I would go for a 2 percent decrease any time. Am I missing something?

      I think the “Consolidation” push is a way to save these debacles they created at the City and we need to fight it at any cost. Get your city affairs in order and you won’t need consolidation.

      If I wanted to live in the city I would have bought a house there. I am regretting buying in Leon County as it is

      Reply
  7. James Anderson   May 14, 2018 at 12:39 pm

    The City should be forced to sell the utility and quit screwing the taxpayers.

    Reply
    • ned1988   May 15, 2018 at 11:58 am

      Privatize it!

      Reply
  8. James   May 22, 2018 at 5:38 pm

    I love the program and save a lot of money. I’m not home all day so it pays to be in the program.

    Reply

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