From Del. Glen Glass:
I have been leading the fight in Annapolis and in Harford County for a no cost opt out of smart meters, and for citizens to keep their electric analog meters. Smart meters only benefit monopoly utility companies, not the citizens of Harford. These meters start fires, increase bills, invade our privacy, and cause health problems.
Last year my bi-partisan smart meter opt out bill was cross-filed by an urban Democrat Senator from Baltimore. Unfortunately my bill was killed in the economic matters committee by members of both parties. Even my own Delegate, Mary-Ann Lisanti voted against my bill which ultimately killed it; her vote against my bill was both hurtful and disappointing. Call Delegate Mary-Ann Lisanti, and Senator JB Jennings, as well as the other Senators and Delegates and tell them how you feel about this issue, 800-492-7122. I also believe Legislators should not receive any political donations from these monopoly utility companies.
Right now we have an opt out that costs $75 up front and $11 monthly. I believe because we have a Governor that supports a no cost opt out; the Public Service Commission was incentivized to reduce the monthly opt out fee to $5.50. This is a great victory for those who support a no cost opt out as well as for MarylandSmartMeterAwareness.org. BGE is also trying to raise our electric rates $180 a year per costumer to pay for the cost of the smart meter systems; I am opposing any fees and support a no cost opt out for smart meters. Go to MarylandSmartMeterAwareness.org or call my office, 410-841-3280 for more information. I have included below, the president of MSMA’s response to the recent PSC ruling.
Thank you and have a great holiday,
Delegate Glen Glass, 34A
Maryland Smart Meter Awareness (MSMA) welcomes the Maryland Public Service Commission’s (PSC) decision to reduce the monthly opt out fee we pay to BGE from $11 to $5.50. But we agree with the dissenting Commissioner, Harold Williams, that there should be no opt out fee at this time. Just as in almost all other rate proceedings, we should determine the opt out fee, if any is justified, when the PSC responds to BGE’s proposed rate hike for the cost of the smart meter program. BGE recently asked for a $180 increase per year per customer to recoup the cost of the smart meter program. But the PSC’s decision on that rate hike request will not occur for quite a while. If the customers who received smart meters are not paying yet for any of their smart meters, why should we be stuck with these punitive opt out fees?
Even if an opt out fee was justified, the PSC decision exceeded even the number presented by BGE based on current opt out rate of about 4%. Instead, PSC accepted BGE’s unrealistic estimate that the opt out rate would fall to about 2.6% to 2.9%. Bas; on BGE’s own numbers, the opt out fee based on the current 4% opt out rate should have been about $4.26. A more objective analysis by Office of People’s Counsel yielded an opt out fee of only $3.51.
If anything, we think the opt out rates are likely to remain at the 4% level or even increase. First, almost all the customers in the opt out program have already paid their up-front $75 penalty fee, and they still remained in opt out status. That is unlikely to change now, particularly with the opt out fees going down. Second, there are still over 16,000 customers who have refused to let BGE in their homes to change the meter. Many of them will be added to the opt out roles by default.
While the $5.50 is unfair to all opt out customers, as the dissent points out, this has a disproportionately unfair impact on low income families. They can barely afford current rates without paying for opt out costs. To make matters worse, a large percentage of them live in multifamily dwellings with much larger concentrations of radiation. This is due to the banks of smart meters many of them are forced to live next to. The typical electric smart meter emits from 10,000 to 190,000 intense pulses of radiofrequency microwave radiation per day. If you live near a bank of 20 meters, you receive 200,000 to 3,800,000 pulses a day.
But it is not just people getting sick from all this radiation. Smart meters invade our privacy by furnishing BGE, its contractors and any hackers with a phenomenal amount of personal data about us. And if this was not enough, MSMA is getting lots of reports about customers with skyrocketing bills right after their smart meters were installed. We advised them to exercise their right to get a nonsmart meter from their utility at no charge. When they did so, their bills returned to normal. We therefore urge all BGE’s customers to take advantage of these lowered opt out fees and exercise their right to opt out of the smart meter program.
Katherine Kheel, President for Life (Maybe it should say Acting President)
Maryland Smart Meter Awareness