Connecticut Light & Power Co.’s plan to replace existing electric meters with advanced technology would be expensive and would not save enough electricity for its 1.2 million customers to justify the expense, Attorney General George Jepsen said last week.

Jepsen made the comments in a brief filed Feb. 8 with the state Department of Public Utility Control, which is reviewing CL&P’s request to replace all existing meters with advanced meter infrastructure. The company also asked regulators to guarantee that the company will be allowed to recover its full cost of installation before the department actually evaluates what the costs actually were and whether those costs were reasonable.

"CL&P’s proposal would force the company’s ratepayers to spend at least $500 million on new meters that are likely to provide few benefits in return," Jepsen said. He urged the regulators to "continue to evaluate emerging meter system technologies as well as other conservation programs" and only approve installation of the advanced meters when they are cost-effective.

To evaluate the technical capabilities and reliability of the advanced metering system, state regulators previously approved a limited study of 10,000 meters. Between June 1 and Aug. 31, 2009, CL&P tested the meters on 1,251 residential and 1,186 small commercial and industrial customers, who volunteered and were paid for their participation in the study. The company reported its results to the DPUC on Feb. 25, 2010.

"The pilot results showed no beneficial impact on total energy usage," Jepsen said. "And, the savings that were seen in the pilot were limited to certain types of customers and would be far outweighed by the cost of installing the new meter systems," he said.

Also, the existing meters, installed between 1994 and 2005, have a useful life of 20 years and replacing them early would incur additional costs for customers, Jepsen said.

Assistant Attorneys General Michael C. Wertheimer and John S. Wright are representing Jepsen before the DPUC.