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Public Service Commission orders BGE to give property owners option of outdoor, indoor regulators

BGE to relocate gas meters from inside garages
Posted at 10:07 AM, Sep 05, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-14 15:39:18-04

BALTIMORE — Another major win for Baltimore residents opposing BGE's plan to install external home gas regulators.

On Tuesday the Maryland Public Service Commission approved a new measure giving BGE customers the option of having a high gas pressure regulator installed on the inside or outside of their home.

The topic of external gas regulators has picked up steam over the last few months.

It all stems from a 2021 lawrequiring new gas service regulators to be installed outside rather than inside of multi-family dwellings. As result BGE by default transitioned to external installations.

Many residents, however, don't want them and began complaining about the aesthetics, but BGE says they're actually more safe and reliable.

Some even went to jail for trying to deny BGE access to their properties, although all charges were later dropped.

Multiple members of the Federal Hill neighborhood sued BGE, accusing the company of threatening to shut off power to those who refused the service. A Baltimore City Circuit Court judge granted them a temporary restraining order.

In their ruling the Public Service Commission said "a residential customer’s decision to decline an exterior installation of a new gas pressure regulator is not in and of itself a valid basis for terminating, or threatening to terminate, service, so long as the customer’s decision does not violate state or federal law, or compromise the safety, maintenance, and reliability of the system."

While the commission said they prefer new regulators to be installed outside they concluded "both indoor and outdoor installations are generally permitted by state and federal law if proper engineering standards are followed, and determines that both indoor and outdoor installations are generally safe."

In the future the commission ordered BGE to notify customers in writing at least 14 days prior to installation, at which point they would be given the option to choose an indoor or outdoor regulator.

BGE issued this statement in response to the commission's decision.

“The safety of our customers drives every decision we make, including our stance that placing gas regulators outdoors is safer because it reduces the risk of a catastrophic gas event. Our position is in line with National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommendations, industry experts, and engineering best practices. We are currently reviewing the Maryland Public Service Commission’s order on the placement of gas regulators and will comply with it fully. We also commend the Commission for issuing its order and providing the proper regulatory oversight to this matter. We appreciate that customers still can select the safer outdoor option. Safety is, above all, the number one priority in all of our work.”

The decision is similar to a recent vote passed by the Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP), which blocks BGE from installing exterior regulators in historic districts without prior authorization from the property owner.

Meanwhile the court issued temporary restraining order remains in effect, barring BGE from turning off power or installing new gas regulators outside homes of those opposed.

The lawsuit has since grown by the hundreds and is still ongoing. A judge has extended the restraining order until September 22 giving both sides time to reach an agreement.

There's since been a renewed effort to get residents involved who might have unwillingly allowed external regulators to be installed on their property.

BGE says any customer who feels their property was damaged during installation can file a claim here.

Once received, BGE will process and investigate the complaint at which time they will make a determination on what should happen next.

So far BGE says it's received no such complaints.