Smart meter installations by utility companies have been welcomed in many regions, but some believe that BGE should allow Maryland residents to “opt-out” of its plan to upgrade to the new digital, wireless devices, and the Maryland Public Service Commission agrees, at least for now.
Baltimore Gas & Electric (BGE) is one of the largest providers of electricity in Maryland and has already begun swapping out old analog electric meters with 1.3 million digital meters, commonly referred to as “smart meters.” The company is scheduled to complete the meter overhaul by 2014.
But consumers complained that there isn’t a way out if they don’t want to participate in the upgrade. There are a range of reasons why people oppose the meters: some feel there is loss-of-privacy at stake since personal information about energy usage is transmitted back and forth from a consumer’s home to the utility company. Other groups believe that the radio waves used to transmit the data poses a potential health risk.
The Maryland Public Service Commission agreed to review consumer petitions to add an opt-out for the smart meter program and stick with an analog meter. After hearing from dozens of ratepayers who are against smart meters, the PSC agreed to an temporary opt-out program that will allow consumers to defer a smart meter installation until a panel makes a permanent decision.
Anyone who does not want to participate must notify BGE in writing that they are taking the temporary opt-out option. If a smart meter has already been installed, customers are allowed to notify the utility in writing not to activate the digital transmission.