By Cathy Duchamp
Baltimore Gas and Electric says it will create 350 new jobs to build it’s so-called “smart grid system.” The utility got regulatory approval earlier this month to revamp the electricity infrastructure for 1.2 million customers in Central Maryland.
Installers will fan out across Central Maryland starting next summer, to replace conventional electric meters with “smart” ones.
"As opposed to the little wheel you see spinning this one has a digital display, it’s pretty accurate," says Mike Fold, a firefighter who lives in Owings Mills, north of Baltimore.
Fold already has a smart meter. He’s been a guinea pig for BGE’s new system for the past three years.
"The savings are there. You can’t deny it, it’s there in print, it’s $68.75 for 12 days," he says.
With smart meters, customers can get rebates for turning off the AC on peak demand days. Critics worry that BGE will monitor people’s energy use a little too closely.
"I haven’t seen it. Third year in the program. Nobody in black suits and dark sunglasses have come to the door saying ‘You used 15 kilowatts of power last night, what’s up with that?' No."
BGE is not allowed to increase rates to recover smart grid costs until the program is fully in place, around 2014.