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BGE: Smart meters are safe [Letter]

Underwriters Laboratories Inc.Energy Saving

Since 2012, BGE has been upgrading its electric distribution system with technology that improves efficiency, reliability and safe operations for our 1.2 million customers. As BGE installs smart meters across our service area, we feel it is important for customers to understand the facts about this technology. While we encourage customers to take advantage of the new energy and money saving capabilities, we also want them to make an informed decision.

Customers with smart meters are benefiting from energy and bill-savings programs, such as BGE Smart Energy Rewards®, a voluntary program that can earn customers bill credits for cutting back on energy use on an "Energy Savings Day." Last summer, participating customers earned $6-$10 per Energy Savings Day. However, even customers who may decide not to have a smart meter installed will see benefits from the overall operational efficiencies and advancements of our smart metering system, including improved reliability and savings that BGE can pass on to customers.

BGE takes seriously all reports from customers who have concerns about their bills, and we investigate each situation. Many customers have seen bills that are much higher than normal because of the unusually severe weather our territory experienced last winter.

It is important for our customers to know that all smart meters have undergone rigorous testing by BGE and independent parties. UL (Underwriters Laboratories) has conducted safety performance tests using the UL safety requirements for utility meters, and the standard residential meter designs BGE uses are fully compliant with these tests.

Op-ed writer Jonathan Libber ("BGE Smart Meter fees amount to 'protection money,'" May 19) mentions concerns about fires; however, there have been no fires involving BGE-installed smart meters.

BGE is confident in the fact that smart meters operate in the same frequency range as many common household devices, such as cordless telephones and wireless security systems. Smart meters typically operate at only 1.4 percent of the maximum level set by the Federal Communication Commission. Also, the World Health Organization has noted that no adverse health effects from low-level long term exposure to RF fields have been confirmed.

Smart meters operate by sending very short transmissions of data to BGE. Typically, smart meters transmit a total of fewer than two minutes a day on average. To put it in context, you would need 375 years of constant exposure to a smart meter to receive a radio frequency dose equivalent of one year of daily 15-minute cell phone conversations.

We invite our customers to continue to learn the facts about smart meters by attending a community open house session or reviewing information about health, privacy and safety and savings programs at bge.com/smartenergy.

Michael B. Butts, Baltimore

The writer is BGE's director of smart grid initiatives.

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Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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