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BGE Customers Who Don't Switch To New System Forced To Pay Opt-Out Fee

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- A big change from BGE--putting its entire grid on a new, "Smart Meter" system. WJZ learns people who don't want the Smart Meters will have to pay to opt-out.

Meghan McCorkell has details on the new fees.

Installation of the new Smart Meters is already underway, but tens of thousands of Marylanders say they don't want them.

New energy technology is being installed across Maryland. BGE is upgrading to new Smart Meters that are connected to the utility through a wireless network so BGE can read them mobily.

BGE officials say they will help save customers money.

"Each day you can see where your spikes in energy use are," said Rachael Lighty, BGE spokesperson. "And that can help you curb your energy use and save money on your bill."

The meters are already installed in Anne Arundel, Carroll and Prince George's counties, as well as the bulk of Baltimore County.

Smart Meters use low energy radio frequency. That's why Danica Lorincz says she doesn't want one in her home.

"I actually don't want to be surrounded by any more electromagnetic frequencies than I must," she said.

Around 30,000 people in Maryland have opted to keep their analog meter instead of switching to the Smart Meters. But opting-out will cost.

Starting July 1, those who don't want a Smart Meter will pay a $75 fine and an additional $11 a month. That totals $207 just the first year and $132 the following years.

Kate Kheel with Maryland Smart Meter Awareness says people have concerns about safety, health and privacy with the new system.

"We're seriously concerned about it. We already don't like the levels of radiation," Kheel said.

BGE officials say there are no dangers.

"These meters are safe. They have gone through many, many tests to ensure their safety," Lighty said.

Nearly a million have already been installed in Maryland.

BGE officials say the new Smart Meters will help them respond more effectively to power outages.

Two bills are now pending in the Maryland legislature that would prohibit the opt-out fees.

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