22 Aug 2014
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BGE Defends Smart Meters, Council Concerns Linger

BGE faced the Bowie City Council again this week to defend the safety and prudence of smart meters.

BGE Defends Smart Meters, Council Concerns Linger

BGE took the podium at Bowie City Hall again last night to answer community questions about smart meter installation, operation and safety.

Questions were raised about smart meter installation notifications at last month's council meeting when Mayor G. Frederick Robinson and Mayor Pro Tem Diane Polangin both stated meters had been installed and they had not received a postcard notifying them in advance.

Several other residents told Patch they had similar experiences, either coming home to find new meters or discovering workers in their yards installing meters without any advance notice.

At the request of the city, BGE imposd a temporary moratorium on installing smart meters in Bowie, but not before approximately 3,500 were installed within city limits, according to a memo by City Manager David Deutsch.

“We believe we adhered to our communications plan in terms of notifying customers,” said Mike Fowler, a spokesperson for BGE. “Where we did find a gap was in our notification of public officials.”

In the presentation that followed, Fowler and Rob Gould, BGE’s vice president for corporate communications, attempted to calm some of the council and community concerns surrounding smart meters.

Gould claimed that data collected by the meters would never be shared.  He also claimed that the radio frequencies emitted from the smart meters was smaller than those emitted by microwaves and cell phones.  

Fowler also assured the council that fears about fires caused by smart meters were actually caused by old socket boxes that house the meters (both new and old) and that the new meters actually contain a technology that notifies BGE if they get hot and a fire may occur.

Even with all of these assurances, members of the council remained skeptical of smart meter installation.

Councilmember Isaac Trouth (District 4) said he still had concerns about the safety of the radio frequencies emitted by the smart meter.

Councilmember Dennis Brandy (at-large) said that although he was not opposed to a smart meter being installed at his home, he did not recall receiving a postcard in advance of installation. He also stated he did not receive a door hanger notifying him of the installation, although he does have a smart meter.

Brady was not alone in his remaining concerns over installation notification. Councilmember James Marcos (District 1) wanted to see more outreach to seniors, and BGE agreed to work with the city to make that happen. Councilmember Henri Gardner (District 3) asked if BGE could further delay installation to give Bowie residents a chance to opt-out of the program. BGE would not commit to this plan.

BGE is holding an additional public information forum on smart meters on Oct. 8 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Smart meter installation is scheduled to resume in Bowie on Monday, Oct. 8. The Public Safety Commission ruled earlier this year that customers have the right to defer the smart meter installation until the matter has been further investigated. Anyone interested in deferring the installation of a smart meter should contact BGE at:

Smart Meter Deferral
BGE
P.O. Box 1475
Baltimore, MD 21203

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