The fee to opt out of a smart meter could be cut after more people than anticipated declined the meters.

Posted: November 3, 2015 in Uncategorized

The Baltimore Sun

The fee to opt out of a smart meter could be cut after more people than anticipated declined the meters.

The Maryland Public Service Commission will consider this week cutting the monthly fee Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. customers must pay to opt out of having smart meters installed after the utility reported that the number of people opting out is more than three times what was anticipated.

BGE instituted a fee of $11 a month, plus a $75 one-time fee, for customers who choose not to have the meters installed to pay for the cost of maintaining two systems. But, with more customers opting out than expected, the overall cost of maintaining the smart meter system and the analog system now may be lower than expected, according to BGE.

BGE began replacing analog gas and electric meters in 2012 and has mostly completed the task. But two challenges remain: customers whose meters are inside or not easily accessible and so cannot easily be replaced, and those who decline the new meters because they fear it will harm their health or privacy.

The PSC, which issued the order to allow customers to opt out estimated that about 1 percent would do so, a rate similar to that in other states with smart meters.

Instead, BGE said, the rate has hovered between 3.8 percent and 4.15 percent, or more than 51,000 people, as BGE continues the installations. The number changes as customers move in and out of BGE’s service area.

The PSC will meet Thursday to consider lowering the fees as part of a “true up” 18 months after BGE began levying the fees. The PSC ordered BGE to report on opt-outs and costs in order to align the fee with actual costs.

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