What People are Reading
- What a very sad and shocking
2 years 29 weeks ago
- Smart Meters
2 years 32 weeks ago
- 100 year old house burns
2 years 32 weeks ago
- Column 2-10 re Treason
2 years 41 weeks ago
- Radical Difference
2 years 42 weeks ago
- This activity is such a
2 years 50 weeks ago
- Okay Great we got a sign!
2 years 50 weeks ago
- Hate Crime a Sad Moment Indeed
3 years 17 hours ago
More in News
Smart meters coming to Oxford Hills
OXFORD HILLS — Legal challenges and consumer complaints have not slowed a plan by Central Maine Power (CMP) to replace existing electricity meters with "smart meters."
The smart meters are units that are designed to transmit information on electricity usage directly back to the company, without requiring an employee to personally check it.
Local residents can expect to see CMP workers making the switch over the next few months. In many towns, public forums will be held to allow discourse on the issue.
Dana Lee, town manager, Poland, says that residents should expect to see the company's representatives on their property soon.
"If you see somebody around your house, working on a meter, it's probably them," he said.
Lee says that CMP has disseminated information packets to address two common concerns with the switchover.
"One is a health concern, if they're actually emitting some sort of waves or something which will hurt you, and that's been deemed to be untrue," said Lee.
Customers have claimed that the new meters emit pulses of energy that cause a wide range of symptoms in certain individuals.
The Maine Center for Disease Control issued a statement debunking the notion, saying that examinations of the evidence "do not indicate any consistent or convincing evidence to support a concern for health effects related to the use of radio frequency in the range of frequencies and power used by smart meters. They also do not indicate an association of EMF exposure and symptoms that have been described as electromagnetic sensitivity."
Electromagnetic sensitivity, David Allen, CMP representative, told legislators earlier this month, is not a reason to stay away from a smart meter.
"To put it bluntly, there is no evidence that such a thing even exists," he said. "... I am not suggesting that the people you hear from today don’t really have the symptoms that they describe. I am simply pointing out that the cause of those symptoms is not smart meters, or cell phones, wireless routers, or baby monitors."
The other worry that's been frequently expressed has to do with money.
"The second [concern is whether] these smart meters [are] accurate, because some people have seen the traditional meter be removed, and then the smart meter installed and their bills go dramatically up," said Lee.
Lee said that he would not speculate on whether he believed this to be true.
"These meters allow two-way communication between the company and the meter," said Allen, "and will provide a wide array of benefits to our customers, the company, the wider electric grid and the country."
The financial impact on ratepayers will likely be a mixed bag. The new meters will be more accurate, which could result in added costs for those consumers who are currently being underbilled. Current technology sometimes fails to measure quick, brief surges in electrical use, which are common in certain types of tools and appliances.
On the other hand, CMP says that the new system will create lower electric rates. "Smart meters will allow the company to operate more efficiently and cut costs enough to more than offset the cost of the meters," said Allen.
Maine's Public Utilities Commission, the entity charged with regulating electricity, has begun an investigation of complaints related to the smart meters.
But CMP won a victory in the state legislature earlier this month, when the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee failed to approve two different bills that were designed to give customers an opt-out alternative.
Allen said that allowing the opt-out "would cost our customers tens of millions of dollars."
One of the bills was tabled, while the second was recommended not to pass.
Last September, CMP began the switchover, which consists of installing 620,000 smart meters in Maine.
CMP spokeswoman Gail Price says that it's difficult to commit to a specific schedule, but that the company is seeking to complete work in the area this summer.
"It can depend on a number of factors, including weather," she said.
For each town, Price says that local government representatives are contacted, both by letter and telephone, in an effort to hold a public forum in which questions can be answered.
"Some towns take us up on the offer, and some of them find that the materials we send are enough," said Price.
One such public meeting was held in Oxford recently. Town Manager Michael Chammings says that the meeting generated little interest.
"I don't think anybody specifically came to that meeting to discuss it," said Chammings. "I don't think people have a lot of concerns about it. I did want to give them a lot of opportunity to express any concerns they did have."
Other upcoming meetings include Norway on April 21, Hebron on April 25, and Paris on May 9.