Maryland regulators have denied Baltimore Gas & Electric’s proposed smart meter program, which the utility says was designed so all benefits go to customers, reports Bloomberg Businessweek.
Maryland’s Public Service Commission (PSC) said in its ruling that the utility infrastructure investment should be recovered through distribution rates not a supplemental surcharge that begins before any benefits from the project are realized, according to the article. It also disapproved of BGE’s plan to use the surcharges as incentives for the company and its investors.
As a result of the decision, a U.S. Energy Department official said that $200 million in grants slated to partly pay for the program will go elsewhere if BGE doesn’t go ahead with the program. The meters, expected to cost $482 million to install and $835 million over the 15-year life of the program, would be paid for by federal grants and customer surcharges, reports Bloomberg Businessweek.
The decision is considered a setback to Gov. Martin O’Malley’s Empower Maryland energy initiative and his plan to reduce energy consumption 15 percent by 2015 and significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions, reports The Baltimore Sun.
BGE said the meters would have allowed customers to cut consumption during high-use periods and save money, and it also would cut costs for customers without smart meters because reduced demand would result in lower prices.
BGE estimates that customers will lose $15 million in energy savings every month the program is delayed, reports The Baltimore Sun.