BETHESDA, Md. – (WMAL) A family in Bethesda is now going into its third week without electricity after it was cut off by Pepco in a billing dispute.
The Pascalev family claims Pepco’s mandated smart meter is both an invasion of privacy and a health risk, and have refused to instal it and refused to pay Pepco’s opt-out fee since early 2015.
“We didn’t feel the fee is fair or appropriate,” Assya Pascalev told WMAL. “It just didn’t make sense to us that a service that Pepco was providing to us all along has to be charged extra fees to maintain.”
In addition to her objection to the fee, Pascalev said she was never comfortable with the smart meter itself.
“The more I read about meters, the more I was concerned about a new privacy issue that it raises,” she said. Pepco, or hackers, Pascalev said, can look in real-time to see electric usage levels and room-by-room statistics. She also was wary of radiation she said it could give off.
“Maybe it’s healthy, maybe it’s not. I just didn’t want to experiment,” she said.
Pascalev said her family came home from a vacation two weeks ago to find Pepco had shut their power off. She acknowledged they got advance warnings but claimed Pepco didn’t cash their checks paying the full bill minus the fee.
In the meantime, Pascalev said life inside her home during the region’s historic heat wave has gotten progressively worse.
“We really are appealing to them on humanitarian grounds. It’s too hot,” she said. “Let’s, while we are talking, turn on the power. They refused. This, to me, seems to be a little too harsh.”
Pepco, in a statement to WMAL, said the opt-out fees were authorized by the Maryland Public Service Commission to maintain the legacy system. They note those that have opted out of using smart meters represent 0.3% of their customers in Maryland.
Copyright 2016 by WMAL.com. All Rights Reserved. (Photo: Pepco/Wikimedia)