Ruling Requires BGE to Provide Smart Meter Options
The Maryland Public Service Commission ruled Monday that customers will have additional options, which may include opting out of smart meters.
In a split decision, the PSC voted to require Baltimore Gas & Electric, Potomac Electric Power Company and Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative provide to customers additional options for measuring the electricity used in their homes and businesses.
One option would be to allow customers to keep their traditional, analog meters for an increased price.
Anne Arundel County residents have complained about potential health consequences that they believe will occur from the smart meters' radio frequency (RF) emissions. BGE began installing smart meters in April.
The commission found no "convincing evidence" to support that claim, but acknowledged a "good-faith belief" to the contrary from customers.
PSC's outgoing Chair Douglas Nazarian and commissioner Kelly Speakes-Backman opposed that option.
"We are being bombarded by RF from all directions, to a much greater degree than anything an advanced meter could possibly emit," wrote Nazarian and Speaks-Backman in a dissenting opinion. "Microwave ovens, Wi-Fi wireless routers, laptop computers and cell phones all expose each of us to a power density of radio frequency on an order of magnitude overwhelmingly greater than that of even standing one foot adjacent to an operable electric smart meter."
The two concluded that allowing even one customers to "opt-out" would increase costs by creating two separate systems for power companies to manage.
Another concern raised by Nazarian and Speaks-Backman was the quality of information smart meters are supposed to provide during power outages.
BGE spokesman Rob Gould told Patch in August that the installation of smart meters would help BGE provide better information to local governments and customers because his company will be able to ping each meter to see if a house had power.
Nazarian and Speaks-Backman favor having the utilities companies install significantly reduced or RF-free advanced meters for concerned customers.
The companies have until July to provide pricing information for both options.
Until the commission decides on which option customers will get, a moratorium on smart meter installation for those wishing to opt-out will continue.