BGE makes case for another rate hike

BGE makes case for another rate hike

Proposed increase would add about $15 a bill

 UPDATED 10:33 AM EDT Mar 18, 2016

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BALTIMORE —If you’re a BGE customer, your energy bills may be getting more expensive.

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The company is asking regulators for another rate hike. This time it says it needs to pay itself back for its Smart Meters program.

BGE is now one step closer to that rate hike, which would equate to about $15 more per bill. Those upset about the hike and Smart Meters protested the proposal on Thursday.

BGE has more than a million Smart Meters keeping track of customers’ energy use across Maryland.

The utility company said the upfront cost to install and operate the new wireless technology will eventually be worth it as it looks to expand Smart Meter use.

“Smart meters give us a lot more information and customers more information about their usage,” BGE spokesman Aaron Koos said. “We expect this to be a $1.5 billion savings project when it’s all said and done.”

That’s what BGE had to prove before asking the Public Service Commission to recoup that upfront cost by way of a rate hike.

Before the last of five public hearings on the rate hike request, a group protested outside on Thursday.

“Customers cannot pay this,” Kate Kheel of Maryland Smart Meter Awareness said. “There are also surcharges on top of this. There’s the conduit fee that’s going to be added on top of this and customers are going to be gouged.”

Koos tried to put BGE bills into perspective.

“The important thing to keep in my mind about total bill is that total bills are down from what they were even in 2008,” Koos said.

Protesters also wanted to raise awareness about what they say are the unknown health dangers of Smart Meters

“The utilities have never done any health research to see what the impact of that kind of radiation is,” Jonathan Libber of Maryland Smart Meter Awareness said. “We’re talking maybe 10,000 pulses a day.”

Koos said the Smart Meters are not a danger to customers.

“Smart Meters are safe,” Koos said. “They’re secure and customers are benefiting from them. It’s been proven across the country and here in Maryland.”

BGE’s rate hike was last year and equated to about $4 more a bill. The latest hike, if approved, would go into effect in the summer.

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