The Maryland Public Service Commission today announced that it will take more time to fully consider whether ratepayers of three local utilities may potentially opt out of installing smart meters in their homes. In so ruling, the commission at least partially acknowledged that the new smart meters may put residents and their homes in danger.
The story was reported by WJZ-13 television news in Baltimore.
Throughout the region, Potomac Electric Power Company, Baltimore Gas and Electric Company and Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative have been contacting customers over the last several months as a prelude to removing traditional electric meters from homes and replacing them with what the companies deem technologically advanced meters. The problem with the new meters, critics say, is that they are not an improvement and they put homeowners in danger.
A host of consumer advocacy organizations throughout the country have been critical of the new technology. Among the arguments they offer: the new meters are responsible for dozens of house fires and the meters invade the privacy of homeowners by transmitting usage and other data back to the utility companies.
Power company customers often assume they have no choice in the matter; the utilities do not explicit offer or publicize an opt-out option for the program. However, at least with respect to BGE’s meter replacement program, customers at the moment may opt out of the program by taking certain steps.
(To opt out of the program, I contacted a rather unhelpful BGE customer service representative, who directed me to write a letter to a BGE mailing address she provided. She offered no guidance as to what the letter should contain, a deadline for submitting the letter or any guarantee my request would be honored.)
Today’s Public Service Commission announcement indicated the state still has not decided whether the utility customers may permanently opt out of the meter-change program. Based on today’s commission ruling, homeowners may temporarily request exclusion from the program while the commission weighs the long-term fate of the meter-change effort.
Jerry Kline is a Realtor with the Odenton, Md., office of Keller Williams Flagship Realty (1216 Annapolis Rd., Odenton.) For more information on the local real estate market, contact him at (443) 924-7418, or visit his blog (www.JerryKlineRealtor.wordpress.com) or website (www.JerryKline.kwrealty.com).