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Smart Meters Blamed for Electronics Interference in Maine

24 Nov 2011

Maine’s Office of the Public Advocate has released a statement saying the smart meters deployed by Central Maine Power (CMP) is causing interference with a host of electrical devices including computers, cordless phones, electric garage doors, and even answering machines and televisions. The most common complaint is disruption of Wifi signals from wireless routers because they operate on similar frequencies.

Even though the complaints amount to less than one half of one percent of the 450,000 households that have received the new meters, Public Advocate Richard Davies believes the incidents of interference may be higher.
Davies says, “We believe that these 200 plus customers are only a subset of those affected…There may be many more customers who are having problems with devices and appliances, but don’t know that the problems may be caused by the smart meter. We have asked CMP to do a better job informing customers about these potential problems, and while CMP’s website does refer to the issue, we don’t think it goes far enough. My agency is troubled by the possibility that people may be spending their time and money fixing a problem that may be caused by CMP’s meters, and that can and should be fixed by CMP.”

On the CMP web site, the utility reports that the meters operate on the same 2.4GHz frequency band used by many cordless phones and 802.11 wireless devices and advises consumers: “Separating interfering devices usually reduces interference, so make sure the wireless device is located as far from the smart meter as possible. Also, adjust the position of the antenna on the device, if possible, and move the wireless device away from any walls that may absorb the signal.”

In addition, CMP advises that interference can sometimes be overcome by changing the Wi-Fi channel used by their router. Routers in the United States tend to use channels 1 and 11.

The Office of the Public Advocate also notes that the interference problems can usually be easily resolved by simply changing a setting on the device.

Davies adds, “If customers notice that some appliances began malfunctioning soon after their smart meter was installed, they should contact CMP. Customers can find information to correct common radio frequency interference problems on the CMP website, or they should call the company and ask for assistance.”