MONTREAL - Quebecers who aren't too keen to have one of Hydro-Quebec's new smart meters in their homes were given an alternative on Wednesday, but the opt-out will cost hundreds of dollars annually.

With the safety of its new meters challenged by some, the utility is offering to install meters that don't emit radio-frequency energy for an initial charge of $98 and a monthly fee of $17 for meter readings.

"These charges ensure that, as is usual in such cases, the costs of opting out are not passed on to other customers," said Hydro-Quebec in a press release.

The utility calls the new meters "totally safe" and maintains that Health Canada has found no dangers from exposures to RF energy.

The utility claims the new meters will save customers $300 million over the next two decades.

Under the plan, a customer would be charged $302 (before taxes) for the first year.

The union representing Hydro-Quebec's meter readers is worried about the 725 employees who will lose their jobs.

Hydro will present the entire project to Quebec's energy board on Monday.