Maryland PSC approves higher fees for smart grid opt-outs
- Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE) is considering an opt-out fee to customers who fail to respond to 15 smart meter installation queries. A recent Maryland Public Service Commission ruling approved enrolling such customers into a smart meter opt-out program and assessing fees.
- PSC rulings allow BGE to install a standard meter for customers who do not want a smart meter. Such customers would be billed an initial $75 fee, three subsequent $25 installments, and a monthly $11 fee.
- The PSC rulings require BGE to give a 30-day notice to customers who have not responded to the 15 queries and make 4 further contact attempts before initiating the opt-out procedures. Those 4 contacts would be (1) a door hanger, (2) a phone call, (3) a confirmation letter, and (4) a charge on their bills. BGE will waive the opt-out fees if such customers schedule a smart meter appointment within 30 days of the bill charge.
Smart meters appeal to utilities because they eliminate the costs of meter readers, meter maintenance, and manual data processing.
Customers have demonstrated a reluctance to allow smart meter upgrades. Some claim radio frequencies have bioeffects. Public Health Evaluation of Radio Frequency Exposure from Electronic Meters, a study commissioned by the Arizona Department of Health Services, found the radio waves are too weak and intermittent to cause concern.
There remain claims that smart meters disrupt body cycles, sleep patterns, and body functions. Advocates argue the transmissions cannot cause such harms, as they occur no more than once an hour and last for only a split-second.
To media claims that smart meters invasively track electric utility customers’ use of appliances and media, utilities say smart meters can only measure hourly or daily electricity usage and have access to no other customer information.