The state Public Regulation Commission announced Wednesday that it unanimously rejected Public Service Company of New Mexico’s proposal for a new remote metering system that the electric utility claimed would save customers $20 million over the next two decades and give consumers the ability to monitor their power use online.

PRC Chairman Sandy Jones issued a statement saying the regulatory body rejected so-called smart meters, “citing rate increases, an excessive opt-out fee, and layoffs as deal breakers.”

The meters, which PNM proposed to install on more than 500,000 homes in New Mexico, would transmit power usage data over mobile networks and allow the company to lay off an estimated 125 meter readers and other employees.

However, after a series of hearings on the plan, Jones said he felt the program “was clearly not in the best interest of the public.”

While customers could decline to have the meters installed, under PNM’s proposal they would have been charged a one-time fee and $47 monthly. In other states, opting out of such systems has been free.

PNM had said it would complete the project at a cost of $87.2 million and recover the money in part through layoffs and charging customers $5 a year for five years for the service.

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