Claremore Daily Progress

August 9, 2013

Letter: New electric metering system a money grab

Staff Reports


Dear Editor,
Your recent article about the City of Claremore wanting to send $1,000,000 to General Electric, headquartered in Connecticut, really caught my attention. 
As I understood the article, the new meters, to be purchased with our 1 million dollars, will read higher usages of electricity and thus the monthly bills for electricity for the people and businesses of Claremore will increase by one million dollars each year perpetually.
The news article implies that a study was made and that the City of Claremore has determined that customers are not paying for all of the electricity being used. 
My first question concerns what volume of electricity GRDA is billing to Claremore. Does GRDA bill Claremore based on a GRDA meter or on the total of what Claremore is billing its customers?
If GRDA is not billing the city for some amount regularly in excess of what Claremore is billing then where is the problem?  Is the Claremore Electric system spending more money that it takes in, if not, what’s the problem? If it is let’s find out why and not just arbitrarily increase the electricity bills.
What it sounds like is that General Electric (GE) has convinced the City of Claremore officials that by buying and installing new meters from GE, the city revenue will increase by a million dollars per year. 
Does the City of Claremore Electric Utility need more revenue to provide adequate service to its customers or should the city reduce its rates after one year of the higher bills?
With Rogers County and the City of Claremore having some of the highest sales taxes in the state, a little relief for utility services would be helpful to Claremore citizens and industries.
My professional experiences with product usage meters; has been limited to water meters, but what I have learned, is that brand new meters are not necessarily accurate and that unless individually calibrated they will often error in favor of the product seller. (City of Claremore in this instance.). So don’t be misguided by an erroneous argument that new is more accurate, because that is a false argument.
It’s an old-fashioned idea and goes against the grain of the modern idea of junking the old meters rather than recalibrating the old meters, but recalibrating the old meters to a prescribed accuracy is a lot more economical than spending one million dollars for new meters of an unknown accuracy. 
Even better is that recalibrating is performed locally and the one million dollars is kept Oklahoma, preferably in Claremore.
City of Claremore officials need to look closely at this proposed million dollar expenditure and ask the question is this in best interest of the tax payers and customers, who pay the bills, or is this a perpetual money grab by enterprising politicians? I suggest, based on the information presented, that sounds more like the latter.
D. Gene Daniel