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While utilities are promoting how smart meter technology will reduce energy use, help the environment, and enable utilities to more quickly determine problems during power outages, some consumer advocates claim the technology poses health, privacy, and security risks. Despite no medical proof exists that exposure to radio frequencies from wireless network devices such as smart meters, some consumer advocates in Maine claim additional investigation is warranted. The concerns have been prompted by Central Maine Power Co., smart-meter rollout.

Smart meter opponent Elisa Boxer-Cook told the Associated Press that the devices have been linked to reports of dizziness, nausea, migraines, muscle spasms and insomnia and says no meters should be installed without further study.  “The science is so unclear at this point that we don’t want to blanket entire neighborhoods with radiation while scientists are debating this.”

Dr. Dora Anne Mills, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said she’s seen no research to indicate the meters pose any more risk than wireless Internet routers and portable telephones. “Some of the analogies I’ve seen by opponents say it’s like having a cell phone tower on the side of your house,” Mills told AP. “It’s more analogous to having a cell phone or a router or a cordless phone on the side of your house.”

The Edison Electric Institute, a Washington, D.C., trade group that represents utilities, estimates that 10 to 20 million United States homes now have smart meters. That number will increase to more than 65 million homes by 2020.

Communities in other states have also sought to delay deployments, claiming the devices pose unforeseen health risks. Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors member John Leopold says, “I’m concerned about what we don’t know. I haven’t seen any scientific information that would lead me to believe there’s a problem, but there are significant questions.”

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