The key point is in the last paragraph - to save on labor costs. Whilst consumers will have to pay for installation (short term costs), expect power companies to make long term profits from sacking meter staff and some support staff. More for the multinationals, less for the consumer.
The problem is possible biological effects, if the meters use wireless communications to store or report usage.
Replay available now: A handful of emerging network technologies are competing to be the preferred wide-area connection for the Internet of Things. All claim lower costs and power use than cellular but none have wide deployment yet. Listen in as proponents of leading contenders make their case to be the metro or national IoT network of the future. Rick Merritt, EE Times Silicon Valley Bureau Chief, moderators this discussion. Join in and ask his guests questions.