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Maine Utilities Must Offer Consumer a Smart Meter Opt Out

20 May 2011

The Maine Public Utilities Commission is requiring Central Maine Power (CMP) to offer an opt-out program for customers who do not want a standard smart meter installed. Power consumers in CMP’s service territory will have two opt-out options: they can get a smart meter and have its transmitter turned off or they can retain the existing analog meter.

Consumers who choose an opt-out option will pay the associated costs of that option. Having the transmitter turned will have an initial fee of $20.00 and a monthly charge of $10.50; those shoocing to keep the old meter will be charged a one-time $40.00 fee, and have a monthly charge of $12.00.  Low-income customers who qualify for Low Income Heating Assistance (LIHEAP), will be charged $10/$5.25 and $20/$6.00 for the two opt-out options.

CMP is required to develop and implement a smart meter opt-out communication plan to inform customers about the program during the smart meter deployment.

Commissioner Vendean Vafiades explains, “Based on sound public policy, as allowed by statute and taking into consideration all public correspondence and filings, we conclude that offering a smart meter opt-out options is reasonable and in the public interest. For the long term success of smart meter implementation and to maximize its potential to the fullest, the public needs to be actively engaged in monitoring their usage and real-time price of electricity and modifying their behavior accordingly. To achieve this goal, we need to shift the focus to the benefits of smart meters and allow the small minority to opt out.”

Commissioner David Littell adds: “We have reviewed every filing, every complaint and every letter sent to this Commission regarding smart meters. Based on our review, we conclude that any CMP residential or small commercial customer should have four choices: the default smart meter which will become the standard meter in CMP territory; the ability to select a smart meter with the transmitter-off; the ability to keep the customer’s existing analog meter; the ability to move the new smart meters elsewhere on their property at the customer’s expense.”

The Commission’s decision is the result of an investigation opened in January to address consumer complaints regarding CMP’s smart meter program.

The Commission also made two related ruling. In the first, the Commission dismissed a complaint which requested an investigation into safety issues, including fires, associated with smart meters and in the second dismissed a request for an investigation into the interference of CMP smart meters with consumer electronics and medical devices. The Commission found that CMP is adequately addressing the concerns about smart meter inference and noted that both the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Drug Administration have approved the smart meters for use.