A. Purpose of Submetering. The purpose of submetering is to encourage effective conservation and efficient use of electricity or gas by fairly allocating its cost among the ultimate users within a master metered apartment house, office building, or shopping center.
B. Availability of Submetering. An owner, operator, or manager of an apartment house, office building, or shopping center who has a master meter may install submeters in accordance with legislation enacted by the General Assembly of Maryland and with regulations adopted by the Public Service Commission of Maryland.
C. Authorization of Regulations. Public Utilities Article, §7-303, Annotated Code of Maryland, requires the Public Service Commission to make such reasonable regulations and standards as it deems necessary to carry out the provisions of this law.
D. Application of Regulations.
(1) These regulations apply to an owner, operator, or manager of an apartment house, shopping center, or office building which is not individually metered by a utility for electricity or gas for each dwelling unit, commercial rental unit, or store, and to the occupant or occupants of the units or stores.
(2) These regulations are intended to provide uniform and reasonable standards for the accuracy, billing, and regulation of submeters, and to define the respective responsibilities of the utility, the owner, and the occupant.
(3) If unreasonable hardship to a utility or owner results from the application of any regulation of this chapter, application may be made to the Commission for temporary or permanent relief.
(4) The adoption of these regulations in no way precludes the Commission from altering or amending them by subsequent proceedings.
(5) In implementing these regulations, an apartment house, office building, or shopping center is not a public service company as defined in Public Utility Companies Article, §1-101, Annotated Code of Maryland.
E. Rent Reduction. Except in units constructed, managed, operated, developed, or subsidized by a local housing authority as established under Article 44A, if the owner, operator, or manager elects to install submeters, during the term of any lease or agreement which includes the cost of electricity or gas consumed for the unit, the owner, operator, or manager shall determine the amount of electric or gas costs saved and pass this amount on to the occupant of the unit as a reduction in rent or payment.
F. Definitions of Terms.
(1) "Apartment house" means a building or buildings with an electric or gas master meter, containing more than two dwelling units, all of which are rented primarily for non-transient use, with rental paid at intervals of 1 week or longer. The term includes residential condominiums and cooperatives, whether rented or owner-occupied.
(2) "Check flow" means a gas flow at 2050 percent of the rated capacity of a meter.
(3) "Commercial rental unit" means any leased premises used for retail, commercial, clerical, or professional purposes.
(4) "Commission" means the Public Service Commission of Maryland.
(5) "Complaint agency" means the county or municipal landlord-tenant commission, if one exists, or, if not, the consumer protection agency of the county or municipality, if one exists, or, if not, the Consumer Protection Agency of the Office of the Attorney General; or any other agency or office designated for tenants' complaints.
(6) "Dwelling unit" means a room or rooms suitable for occupancy as a residence and containing kitchen and bathroom facilities.
(7) "Master meter" means a meter used by the utility to measure, for billing purposes, all electrical or gas energy and load usage within an apartment house, shopping center, or office building, and any associated common areas and common facilities.
(8) "Occupant" means the occupant or occupants of a dwelling unit in an apartment house, of a commercial rental unit in an office building, or of a commercial rental unit in a shopping center.
(9) "Office building" means a building or buildings with an electric or gas master meter or meters and two or more rental units used for clerical, commercial, professional, or retail purposes.
(10) "Owner" means any owner, operator, or manager of an apartment house, residential condominium, or cooperative, of a shopping center, or of an office building.
(11) "Shopping center" means any combination of privately owned commercial, professional, or retail establishments with an electric or gas master meter or meters and to which the general public is invited for business purposes.
(12) "Submeter" means an electrical energy or gas volume measuring device used in submetering.
(13) "Submetering" means the installation of equipment for the purpose of determining the actual use of electricity or gas per residential unit or commercial rental unit.
(14) "Unit" means a single dwelling unit or commercial rental unit.
(15) "Utility" means the public service company which supplies electric or gas service to the master meter.