Have You Been Betrayed by Your Smart Meter?—Well You are Not Alone: Registered Smart Meter Complaints in Maryland
By Rebecca Hanna-Diener, Director of Public Relations for Maryland Smart Meter Awareness. (6/19/14)
Everyone knows if a product or service is genuinely good, it will sell itself. That is far from the case with the new wireless utility smart meters being deployed around the globe. Thousands of people in North America and abroad are sending in smart meter related complaints to their utility commissions, news outlets or posting them on the internet. Maryland Smart Meter Awareness (MSMA) has fielded scores and scores of consumer smart meter related complaints.
Traci Radice who has party status in the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) smart meter case and Rebecca Hanna-Diener, Director of Public Relations for Maryland Smart Meter Awareness, both used the Maryland Public Information Act (MPIA) to acquire registered smart meter related complaints from the PSC with a time frame ranging from October 1, 2012 through December 10, 2013 to see if the international trend of problems associated with smart meters existed in Maryland. Two samples of written complaints (1,863 total), sent by Maryland residents, was then reviewed from that 13 month period. Complaints registered by email or telephone were withheld from the second, more recent request because the Public Service Commission said there were too many to send. –See the coversheet from the original document to Rebecca Hanna-Diener.
The sample gleaned from the MPIA inquiry revealed that all the various problems associated with the wireless smart meters globally were represented by one or many complaints from Marylanders. It should be noted that MSMA also discovered that many people who had various problems never connected the source of the ill affects back to the smart meter or knew to complain to the PSC so that the grievance could be made public.
The majority of the registered entries were from customers who wanted their opt-out notice to be officially recorded. Many also asked for a moratorium or request for independent studies to be conducted. There was one complaint of a fire, several examples of severe health effects, meter malfunctions, meter reading errors, property damage, blatant deception and bullying by the utility representatives and/or installers and a few threats of electric disconnections. Many people complained of not receiving prior or post notice of installation. Even with the proper written deferral requests sent in to the utility, people were complaining of installers ignoring their pleas to stop the installation process. There were a plethora of extreme billing disputes and customers with outrageously higher bills were saying that their neighbors were having the same issue since their smart meter installation. There were also complaints about smart gas meters. There were three instances within this one small sample of people being away from their residences for extended periods of time, expecting to have reduced utility bills only to find that their bills were much higher.
Since receiving the results of the MPIA, Maryland Smart Meter Awareness has received dozens and dozens of complaints from the public from every category above. One person had two major appliances burn out the same day (water heater and washing machine) after her smart was installed and three weeks later her dishwasher burned out. One attorney wrote that his bill skyrocketed from $180 to $800 per month range and like so many others was told that his smart meter was accurate and there was nothing he could do.
Complaints about inaccurate or higher bills are flooding in from Maryland residents. For reader convenience, twenty one complaints in this category were flagged and summarized as typical of the national trend. They cover BGE, PEPCO and Delmarva Light and Power (DLP) territories. Please see the pages from the original reports for the complaints as submitted by the utility customer.
MSMA suggests that anyone with a smart meter complaint report it to the Maryland Public Service Commission in writing so that it will become a part of the public record.
Excerpts of Registered Smart Meter Complaints from 10/01/2012 to 12/31/2012 as fulfilled by the Maryland Public Information Act
- 118 -After receiving a smart meter, the customer’s October bill showed more use of power than even the coldest days of winter. Customer was told he would be able to monitor use by seeing his usage on a website and is frustrated that it is not up and running.
- 160 -After receiving a smart meter, the customer was surprised to see a “crazy high reading” from the month of September when she expected the bill to be one of the lowest of all months. Instead of 1,396 kWh to 5, 040 kWh. It made no sense that the bill would be higher in a month when 1.) no air conditioning or heat was used, 2.) the refrigerator was broken for 10 days 3.) the power was out due to a storm one day 3.) their furnace, hot water heater and stove use gas. 4.) Customer hangs dries the wash and uses the washing machine at off peak hours.
Excerpts of Registered Smart Meter Complaints from 1/01/2013 to 12/10/2013 as fulfilled by the Maryland Public Information Act
- 416 Utility bill doubled after smart meter installation.
- 541 Registered deferral notice was ignored and a smart meter was installed. This was only realized after months of outrageous higher bills and the customer discovering that the smart meter had been installed without her knowledge.
- 675 Customer couldn’t understand why his bill had doubled and then discovered a smart meter had been installed without his knowledge.
- 678 Customer complained of astronomically higher bill after the “smart” meter was installed. The utility representative said they have no way to check the accuracy of the meter and was also told that he has been getting many calls from other customers of increased bills.
- 856 After getting a smart meter, a customer received a bill of $1,665. It took 6 months for someone to come out and check his meter. He was told the meter was reading accurately and that they are “never wrong.”
- Customer has kept spreadsheets of monthly usage for six years and is protesting bills that have almost tripled after the smart meter installation. He was told the old analog was just slow.
- Customer said at least 12 of his neighbors were also over billed since their smart meter installation. He had a technician come out and check his meter and the meter failed the test three times.
- 965 Smart meter customer disputes 2X higher bills during months when the air-conditioning and heat were turned off in an office that is only open from Monday to Thursday.
- 966 Customer’s bill went up 1000%. The utility claims the smart meter is accurate. The customer cannot understand how it is even logically possible since he only uses gas heat.
- 1003 Customers bills doubled since the smart meter installation. The utility discovered a software “rebooting” error.
- 1049 A retired couple’s bills jumped from $150 to $800 every month since the smart meter was installed and now have a disconnection notice. They live on a social security pension and were forced to send $200 to stop the disconnection notice and indicated further that they had to use their grocery money to pay it.
- 1068 Customer has turned off everything he possibly can to reduce his bill since receiving a smart meter and the bills keep getting higher even though he has gas heat.
- 1095 Smart Meter customer has cut electric usage to the bare minimum and still they are getting substantially higher bills.
- 1189 Smart meter customer’s bills doubled and were told this is normal because the smart meter captures more usage than the old analogs.
- 1252 Smart meter customer reported that their bills doubled since receiving a smart meter even though he/she turned down the heat in the home until it was “cold” and co-workers are having the same experience of bills doubling with a smart meter.
- 1284 Customer claims bill doubled after smart meter installation despite customer being away for the entire month.
- 1366 Smart Meter customer wants an explanation for why the electric bill is the same when they are away for more than 16 days out of the month, with the electric turned off as when they are home with the electricity turned on for 30 or 31 days.
- 1371 Smart Meter customer’s bills are $400 higher than normal with no explanation. The customer is told the smart meter is accurate.
- 1416 Retired couple with a smart meter had their bill jump from $175 a month to $783 without any new behavior on their part. They had the smart meter tested and were told it was “OK.”