As we noted last fall, Smart Meter Texas (SMT) was ahead of its time -- a great concept, but poorly executed. But a comprehensive settlement agreement filed this week at the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) promises the most significant improvements to SMT since 2014.

"SMT 2.0" is the culmination of four dockets over the years (1, 2, 3 and 4) at the PUCT and months of negotiations between the Joint Transmission and Distribution Utilities (TDUs), who operate SMT, and stakeholders such as Mission:data. If approved by PUCT (which is expected in April, 2018), then the following big changes will be implemented:

1. Streamlined Authorization Process

According to a report by SPEER in 2016, SMT 1.0 has the following convoluted, 10-step process for customers to grant access to a "Competitive Service Provider" (CSP):

The existing 10 step customer experience

The existing 10 step customer experience

SMT 2.0 will dramatically simplify this process. First, creating an online account is not required, solving a significant obstacle to consumer adoption. After all, most customers have no idea what "Smart Meter Texas" is, so why would they take the time to create an account? The resulting authorization process of SMT 2.0 looks like this:

  1. Customer signs up on the CSP's website or app, providing their (i) ESIID, (ii) meter number and (iii) retailer certificate number. (These three numbers are printed on customers' bills.)
  2. The CSP, acting on the customer's behalf, sends this information, along with the customer's email address, to SMT 2.0 via a REST API.
  3. The customer receives an email from SMT 2.0 asking for confirmation. After one click, customer energy data is shared with the CSP.

The most significant benefit of this re-design is that the customer never leaves the CSP's website or app; it's a seamless experience.

2. Green Button Connect API

Currently, SMT 1.0 provides an outdated, clunky SOAP API and an FTP site to download encrypted CSV files. Using SMT is like re-living 1999 technology (remember laserdiscs?), leading to significant support costs on the part of CSPs.

SMT 2.0 will use the latest Green Button API from 2017. The settlement's functional requirements state:

"The API data format and API specification used by SMT will be compliant with the Green Button standard as of 2017."

Various other improvements are noteworthy as well. For instance, a "service level agreement" targets 99.5% uptime of all services, and reports on availability will be published monthly.

Finally, 7.3 million electric customers in Texas will have a much-improved user experience and CSPs will have the Lone Star state added to the list of Green Button adopters, including California, Colorado, Illinois and New York. SMT 2.0 is to be released on or before December 31st, 2019.

Read the settlement agreement.