To date, CMP has replaced more than 170,000 of the state’s 620,000 hard-wired meters with digital smart meters. The deployment is expected to be completed by early 2012. The total cost of the installation is $192 million, which is being underwritten with a $96 million grant from federal stimulus funds.
The original bill to allow consumers to opt out of having a smart meter installed was introduced by Heather Sirocki (R-Scarborough), who said she had received numerous complaints from residents who were concerned about potential health and safety effects from the meters. State Senator Mike Thibodeau, chair of the Legislature’s energy committee, notes that while the meters are used in other parts of the country, several members of the committee were undecided on the opt-out issue.
Thibodeau says: “While we heard some concern, this technology has been deployed in a number of states.”
In addition, the Legislature also voted 9-0 against a bill to delay installation of smart meters throughout the state for one year.
CMP spokesman John Carroll says the utilities provider is against giving consumers an opt-out option because it would increase costs for those who don’t opt out. “An opt out adds costs that are operational, which should be borne by those who wish to opt out. We want to make sure every customer that wants the meters gets all the benefits without compromise, and we want to make sure we can fulfill all commitments in terms of a developing system that will work as intended. CMP has been in close cooperation with the commission, and it’s helpful to think those are the ones that will make this decision.”
The Maine PUC previously announced it would not re-investigate potential health hazards associated with radio frequencies emitted by the meters. The Commission’s statement says: “The commission does not have institutional expertise regarding potential (radio frequencies) health impacts.”