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Declining a smart meter too costly [Letter]

I read with great interest Jamie Smith Hopkins' article about snags with smart meters ("Indoor meters present challenges in smart-meter rollout," April 28).

Viva House, a Catholic Worker hospitality house that has been serving the Baltimore community for 46 years, just received four notices from BGE regarding our meters. The two buildings that comprise our soup kitchen and food pantry are configured in such a way that we have four meters and thus receive four bills each month.

The Viva House community chose to "opt out" on the installation of even one smart meter. We do not need or want any more technology invading our space and do not believe such meters will prove safe over the long haul. We do not believe all health and privacy concerns have been adequately researched and addressed. Additionally, we believe that the installation of the meters will mean fewer BGE workers and even more unemployment. We need this like we need one more murder, one more addict or one more child dropping out of school in Baltimore City.

For opting out, we get bashed in the face. For not "going along" with smart meters, we are being fined big time. The Public Service Commission has given BGE the green light to charge those who opt out $75 initially and then $11 per month forever. For Viva House, this means $300 initially and $44 per month ($528 per year) forever.

When I go to the airport, I opt out of the detectors and go through the body search. I am not robbed for my decision. How can the Public Service Commission permit this extortion? How is it possible to charge $300 and then another $528 per year? For what?

Not long ago when meter readers went to each home and could not enter, customers were asked to fill out a card indicating usage. Eventually, the meter reader would get into the residence, read the meter and make any correction. BGE always got its money.

We have always paid for whatever energy we used. Over a decade, this amounts to at least $40,000. That is not pocket change. We have no choice but to pay the BGE monopoly. And we have no choice but to use BGE meters. We will pay for usage but not for extortion, and the Public Service Commission should insist on our right and the rights of all customers to opt out.

Brendan Walsh, Baltimore

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Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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