In a small score for smart meters opponents, the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) decided Thursday that Marylanders may ask utility companies to hold off on installing smart meters in their homes or businesses, pending a final decision by the PSC on whether customers may opt-out of smart meters.
For now, those who have them already, can stop them from being activated as well.
"The [PSC]’s order is effective immediately and affects customers in the Baltimore Gas & Electric, Potomac Electric Power Company [Pepco] and Delmarva Power service territories," according to a PSC statement.
Customers who already have smart meters installed, but don't want one, may inform their utility in writing. The utility cannot activate those customers’ smart meter transmitters until the PSC issues its final decision, the statement added.
Still, the commission has "not reached any decision as to whether to permit the customers of the utilities in these cases to 'opt-out' of receiving a smart meter permanently, or, if so, what the terms of any possible future opt-out might include," the commission said.
Many Marylanders are in their homes. At a PSC hearing on Tuesday, May 22, "no one who spoke as an individual was in support of the smart meters, with some people going so far as to say that 'an opt-out is not sufficient ... we request a moratorium,' " , who attended the 11-hour hearing.
Smart meters are devices that send information about household energy use to a power company via electromagnetic radiation. A smart meter replaces a traditional electricity meter, which a power company representative must visit every month to get a electricity usage reading.
Smart meters can make it easier for power companies to know about power outages, and the smart meters can help customers track how much energy they are using at different times of the day. But, many object to the electromagnetic radiation, and would prefer that such devices stay away from their homes and families, .
But Pepco says the meters do not pose a health risk. Pepco and Delmarva Power support the position that radio frequency exposure from smart meters is far below and less frequent than other common electric devices, such as cell phones and baby monitors.
The PSC will likely render a decision within one month on whether to allow Marylanders to opt out of having smart meters installed in their homes, .
Cindy Henneberger contributed to this report.