Maryland’s Public Service Commission decided Monday that electricity customers can permanently stop utilities from installing so-called smart meters that use radio waves to transmit data for billing and potentially other applications.
But the commission said it needs more information to decide whether customers can opt to keep their analog meters or will have to get a smart meter that operates without using radio waves.
Three commissioners –– W. Kevin Hughes, recently nominated to become PSC chairman, Lawrence Brenner and Harold D. Williams –– voted to get more information before deciding which way to go in allowing customers a permanent opt-out of the smart meters that some groups have opposed, citing radiation, health, safety and privacy concerns.
The commissioners said those ratepayers who decide to permanently opt out will have to share any extra expense that keeping two separate metering systems entails.
Two commissioners, Chairman Douglas R.M. Nazarian, recently nominated to the Court of Special Appeals, and Kelly Speakes-Backman, did not vote with the majority, but issued a dissenting opinion. They said that customers should not be allowed to opt out, but utilities should be required to provide a reduced-radiation or radiation-free smart meter upon request.
In May, the commission issued an interim order that allowed customers temporarily to opt not to have a smart meter. The interim order remains in effect until the commission decides which option customers should have.