ComEd customers who refuse new smart meters will pay a penalty.
The Illinois Commerce Commission on Wednesday approved a $21.53-a-month tariff to the bills of ComEd customers who don't let the company install the new gadgets.
Smart meters are wireless digital devices that relay electricity consumption information directly to utilities, eliminating the need for meter readers.
ComEd is switching all 4 million northern Illinois customers to the devices by 2021 to help modernize the electrical grid.
The ICC says the extra charge reflects costs of reading and servicing the older analog meters. But the commission says even customers who refuse meters now eventually will get one.
ComEd says smart meters record usage more accurately because it's no longer estimated. The meters eventually will automatically alert utilities to an outage.