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Smart Meters – Are They Really a Smart Idea?

Baltimore Gas and Electric has proposed installing new “smart” meters for all of its residential customers in Maryland. On their own, these meters don’t save money. And they may not be such a smart idea for consumers.

Smart meters will allow BGE to charge different rates for electricity depending on what hour of the day the electricity is being used. For example, during the summer, you could be charged 50 percent more for using electricity at peak times (between 2pm and 7pm) every day.

It’s called a time-of-use rate. And under BGE’s proposal, it’s mandatory.

Some customers will be eligible for rebates if they reduce usage during “critical” days – about 12 per year. Meanwhile, your rates will be higher from 2pm to 7pmevery dayof the summer. And while you may be able to put off doing the laundry, it’s harder to re-schedule the use of medical or home-cooling equipment that could mean the difference between life and death.

Time of use rates are also likely to result in higher bills for many customers, especially  elderly, low-income and other customers who do not use a lot of electricity and will be forced to pay peak time prices or simply go without necessary electricity. 

What’s more, the costs to install these expensive meters will be passed on to ratepayers in the form of a monthly surcharge – that will continue for 15 years. 

And should the whole program end up costing more or saving less than BGE predicts, only ratepayers bear the risk.

What can YOU do?

Contact the Public Service Commission by calling toll free 1-800-492-0474 and ask them to deny BGE’s request for mandatory time of use rates.  Ask the commissioners to protect consumers as they review BGE’s proposal.

AND, contact the House Economic Matters Committee in the Maryland General Assembly by calling 410-841-3519 or by e-mail to the committee Chairman Tell them consumers need lower rates and price stability, not expensive, unproven new meters. Re-regulation of the electricity industry, which offers a real possibility of stable pricing and reliable supply, stalled in this committee earlier this year. Your input can make a difference when the committee re-considers re-regulation in 2010.

For savings, stability and safety, electricity customers need smart leaders more than smart meters.