On February 26, 2014, the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) made a decision on smart meter opt out and related costs for customers who do not want a smart meter. If you choose to have a smart meter installed, or keep the smart meter that is already installed, these fees
will not apply to you.
Customers who opt out of having a smart meter installed will be charged a one-time fee of $75, which will be billed in three equal monthly installments, and an additional monthly fee of $5.50.
Customers can call BGE at 1-
In compliance with Maryland Public Service Commission Order No. 86200, BGE will install a pre-Smart Grid standard meter, first installed in 1996 and known as an Electronic Receiver Transmitter (ERT) meter. Other legacy, non-ERT meters are not supported by BGE and require replacement with an ERT meter. Opt-out fees continue to apply to all non-smart meters, including ERT meters.
The ERT meter does not require physical access to be read, but enables accurate and timely readings and reduces the potential for estimated bills that can result from meters that are inaccessible. The ERT meter does not have the capabilities to enable participation in smart meter enabled programs that provide customers with energy use reports, rebates for conserving energy on high usage days, or time-of-use (TOU) rates.
The ERT meter is not connected to the BGE Smart Grid Network. All ERTs transmit data using radio frequency (RF). RF exposure is a function of transmitter power (wattage), duty cycle (RF transmit duration), transmit frequency, and distance from RF source. ERTs transmit encoded data proactively so they can be read by passing meter readers or reactively when signaled by a passing reader.
In 2011, the Maryland Public Service Commission convened a hearing to consider, among other things, the health effects of smart meters, and concluded that it did not find convincing evidence that smart meters pose any health risks to the public at large. As the RF exposure from any ERT on BGE’s system is at least 75 percent less than the RF exposure from a smart meter, the use of ERTs would similarly not pose any health risks.
The RF “power” of the BGE smart electric meter is 1 Watt while the “power” of an ERT for electric is ¼ Watt. This is the power at the meter. The RF exposure will decrease significantly as you move away from the meter and/or if, the RF signals encounter physical barriers such as building materials or foliage. The RF exposure from smart meters and ERTs is less than the RF exposure from many commonly used items such as handheld cell phones, cordless phones, remote control toys and nursery monitors.
Just like smart meters or any device using RF technology, the ERT radio devices must be certified to the rules of the Federal Communications Commission. The RF intensity of smart meters while transmitting is below 1percent of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Maximum Permissible Exposure (MPE) limit. Again, given the difference in the RF power, the RF intensity of an ERT would be below 0.25 percent of the FCC MPE limit.
Meters are the property of BGE, which must have access to inspect and maintain under the terms of the company’s service tariffs approved by the Maryland Public Service Commission. Appointments to install an ERT meter can be made by calling BGE at 410.470.6633.
What if I opt out of my current residence and then move to another home. Do I
have to pay the initial opt out fee twice?
Customers who do not want a smart meter will only pay the initial $75 fee
once. If they move and do not want a smart meter at their new residence, they
will have to inform BGE of their new information. They will continue to pay the
monthly opt out fee of $5.50.
As BGE transitions to smart meter technology, customers will need a smart meter
in order to participate in the Time of Use (TOU) rate program. For customers
currently on TOU who wish to opt out of smart meters, you will be transitioned
to standard rates.
If you decide to opt-out, the charges should appear on the bill for your next billing cycle. You will receive a letter from BGE confirming that you have opted out and that you will start seeing the charges. Opt-out fees are an initial one-time charge of $75, paid in three monthly installments of $25, and an additional monthly recurring fee of $5.50. The fees will be a total of $30.50 each month for the first three months, and $5.50 each month beginning on the fourth month. The opt-out fees will be itemized on your bill. If you change your mind after opting out and decide you would like to have a smart meter installed, please call BGE at
855.470.8800. If you receive your first bill with opt-out charges, and you contact us to arrange for your smart meter installation before the end of your next billing cycle (30 days from the “billing date” in the summary section of your bill), we will credit the opt-out fees back to you. After this period, the opt-out fees will not be refundable.
If I opt out of having the electric meter upgrade, does that mean I can’t
upgrade my gas meter?
If you inform BGE that you want to opt out, according to the PSC order, you will
be opting out of both the electric and gas meter upgrades. The opt-out fee of
$75 initially and $5.50 a month will cover both meters, you will not pay a fee
for opting out of each meter separately.
What if I already have a smart meter and don’t want it?
Customers who already have a smart meter still have the option to opt out.
Please contact BGE with your request to remove your smart meter. BGE will
exchange your meter for a meter that is equipped with an Electronic Receiver Transmitter (ERT) device. Please allow some time for this meter
exchange as we work to meet the needs of all our customers.