(ANNAPOLIS) As power companies across the nation are implementing “smart” meter systems in an attempt to better manage their customers’ energy usage, Maryland power customers are raising concerns about the safety of these new meters. According to Delegate Michael McDermott (R - Worcester & Wicomico), power companies are installing the meters without sufficiently notifying their customers of program “opt out” options.
“I understand that the Public Service Commission posted a notice on their website informing customers of the opt out option, but that action really is insufficient. I have been receiving calls from constituents who do not want these smart meters and were never aware of the option to opt out or found out when it was too late. Expecting people to be suitably notified while browsing the Commission’s website is unrealistic - there needed to be further notice,” Delegate McDermott stated.
Additionally, Delegate McDermott expressed concern over Delmarva Power’s handling of the issue. While Delmarva Power has stated that they have given their customers notice, Delegate McDermott believes that the power company did not do its due diligence when notifying their customers of their ability to opt out of the smart meters.
“It is my understanding that the company posted a note on their website giving the customer’s notice to opt out, while the notices sent to their customers merely talked about the pending installation of the smart meters,” Delegate McDermott said. “While that measure may seem adequate to their company, sufficient notice was not personally given to Delmarva Power customers.”
“The notification process has been wholly inadequate and further action needs to be taken by both the Public Service Commission and Delmarva Power,” Delegate McDermott added. “The fact that customers have to pay $75 to opt out of something they were given insufficient notice about is completely absurd. While I do not approve of the opt out fee, if the commission is going to charge it, they have to make it their duty to adequately inform Maryland customers of all available options.”
“At the end of the day, I do not agree with how the customers were notified of their ability to opt out of smart meters. More importantly, I do not agree with customers being charged to reject something that they do not want,”Delegate McDermott concluded.
Delegate Glen Glass (R - Harford & Cecil) has sponsored HB-332 which would eliminate opt out fees. The bill is awaiting a vote in the House of Delegates.
Delegate McDermott is awaiting a response from both the Public Service Commission and Delmarva Power. A website (marylandsmartmeterawareness.org) has been established to provide assistance to those wishing to opt out of smart meter installation. Forms and addresses are available on the site.