Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE) plans on installing “smart
meters” on homes and businesses in South County in August of
this year. Rhea Lewis of BGE said that the installation of
the meters would be complete by January of 2013.
The meters will replace conventional meters for all BGE
The meters will operate on a radio frequency, similar to
cordless phones, garage door openers and baby monitors.
Lewis said that the meters will operate for less than two
minutes a day in total.
The meters will allow BGE to pinpoint outages. For
customers, BGE said that the meters will identify energy
consumption in detail. They will allow customers to track
usage and provide smart energy pricing programs. The meters
do not allow BGE to control energy usage, they simply track
what has been used.
When BGE installs the meters, electric service will be
interrupted for several minutes while the meters are
There are strong opponents to the installation of the
meters. An online group, “Maryland Smart Meter Awareness ”
says the new smart meters may: cost consumers more in the
long run because because the depreciation life of the
devices could be shorter than the projected lifespan of 15
years cause health concerns cause interference with other
home appliances that use radio frequencies similar to the
smart meters be a potential fire danger have a negative
impact on the environment BGE said that there have been a
number of studies that show smart meter Radio Frequency
presents no health risks. Lewis sited studies including the
California Council on Science and Technology study in 2011
that smart meters result in less exposure than microwaves
and far less than cellphones. She also pointed to an Edison
Electric Institute white paper that found that smart meters
operate below Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
The Maryland Public Service Commission will be looking into
the issue at its May 2 meeting at 10 a.m. in the William
Donald Schaefer Tower in Baltimore.
Specifically, PSC will be looking at BGE’s formula for
calculating the charge for electric use between the time the
conventional meter is disconnected and the Smart meter comes
The PSC has suggested in staff correspondence that the
language “may not provide enough detail to explain the
calculation for customers.”
The documents further show that the PSC wants BGE to
indicate on bills where usage values that have been
At this time, it is unclear if consumers will have the
ability to opt out of having a smart meter installed. BGE
answers this question online by touting the smart meter’s
To make sure that every meter is compatible with
system-wide enhancements and to provide every customer with
the advantages of these new technologies, BGE plans to
replace all meters in its service area over the next few
years. We are also engaging the Public Service Commission
and other statewide utilities in a meaningful dialogue on
this issue, with particular emphasis on the public policy
Installation for all BGE smart meters will take about three
years. Once the meters come online, meter readers will no
longer be necessary.
BGE’s Lewis said that there are more that 27 million smart
meters installed across the country to date, including
meters installed by other utilities in Delaware, Maryland
and Washington D.C.
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