Maine Smart Meters Appeal,129
January 12, 2012 15:08 GMT
Maine smart meter critics file appeal
PORTLAND, Maine (AP)
A group of Central Maine Power ratepayers has filed an appeal with the state’s highest court in its fight against the utility’s use of smart meters.
Lead plaintiff Ed Friedman and other CMP customers are appealing the Public Utilities Commission’s dismissal of their complaint challenging CMP’s program to replace 600,000 traditional electric meters with wireless digital devices known as smart meters.
The appeal filed with the Maine Supreme Judicial Court claims smart meters can create health problems and are an invasion of privacy because information they collect can be used for personal profiling.
CMP says smart meters are safe, cut energy use and allow utilities to pinpoint problems during power outages more quickly.
The PUC allows CMP customers to opt out of using the meters for $12 a month.
Maine utility admits smart meters cause interference
Utility meters are breaking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rule not to interfere with other radio frequency devices.
The Portland Press Herald reports the Maine Public Advocate’s office released a statement this week saying:
“Smart Meters are interfering with a wide range of household electronic devices, from garage door openers and WiFi devices to security systems.”
On Central Maine Power’s FAQ, in answer to the question: “Will the smart meter interfere with my other household appliances such as computer routers, television signal, cordless phones, etc.?” they respond: “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.”
According to the FCC Electronic Code of Federal Regulations: the meters are not supposed to cause interference, and if they do the FCC states,
“The operator of a radio frequency device shall be required to cease operating the device upon notification by a Commission representative that the device is causing harmful interference.”
Anyone experiencing interference please file a complaint with the FCC!
Monroe to vote on smart meter moratorium
Talk of potential health hazards better late than never, petitioner says
By Ethan Andrews | Aug 17, 2011
MONROE — The town of Monroe has scheduled a special town meeting for Wednesday, Aug. 24 at 7 p.m. to vote on a proposed ordinance that would place a six-month moratorium on the installation of Central Maine Power’s “smart meters.”
Allyn Beecher, who helped circulate the petition that prompted the special town meeting and led an informational session on Aug. 16, said that CMP had failed to provide enough information on the new meters before installing them, specifically with regards to potential health concerns and the option to opt out.
The town meeting, he said, is intended to give residents a chance to voice their opinions.
In a joint letter published in the August 10 edition of The Republican Journal, the three members of the Monroe selectboard came out strongly against the proposed moratorium, noting that as of July 20, 92 percent of CMP customers in Monroe had already had smart meters installed.
The letter cited CMP claims that the devices comply with safety standards set by the Federal Communications Commission. It also noted the potential cost to the town.
“Every voter in Monroe needs to be fully aware of the ramifications of this moratorium,” the letter read. “If CMP should choose to dispute a moratorium, there will be legal costs that will affect every taxpayer.”
VillageSoup attempted to reach two of the Selectboard members on Aug. 16 for additional comment, but did not immediately receive a response.
Beecher said there is a substantial amount of literature that suggests the cumulative effects of microwave radiation like that emitted from smart meters — but also from wireless Internet connections, cell phones and baby monitors — can be harmful, and that the FCC safety standards, dating to 1996, only take into account the thermal effects of radiation (i.e. burns), not the potential for other biological disruptions.
Recent studies have linked exposure to microwave radiation to a number of health problems, he said.
Given the 92 percent installation rate, some residents will likely see the discussion about smart meters as coming too late. But Beecher said he and others with concerns about smart meters launched the moratorium petition campaign as soon as they found out that CMP was installing the meters.
In the time required to get the necessary signatures, bring the petition before town selectboard and allow ample notice for the meeting, however, much of the conversion was completed.
“Nevertheless, we’re trapped in this process, and we can find out what the community has to say,” Beecher said. “And if there’s 8 percent of meters that aren’t installed yet, maybe we can stop them.”
The text of the Aug. 24 town meeting article asks: “Do the citizens of Monroe wish to place a 6 month moratorium on the installation of ‘smart meters’ that will use WIFI or transmit and receive information over the public air waves in the town of Monroe?”
The purpose of the moratorium, the article states, is to allow residents time to decide if the technology is “in the best interest of the people of the Town of Monroe.”
“The idea was to get a conversation going in the town about smart meters to see how people feel about it,” Beecher said. “We didn’t want to say, ‘You can’t do this.’ We wanted to get people together and have a conversation and vote on it.”
Beecher has been the public spokesman for several recent citizen-initiated ordinances, including the successful challenge to corporate personhood in 2010, and the failed Farm and Garden Ordinance voted on earlier this year, which sought certain exemptions for small farmers and protections against the liabilities of genetically modified seeds, among other things.
Asked if he worries that residents will become jaded toward proposals appearing to come from him, Beecher acknowledged the possibility.
“This is not a comfortable position to be in but it’s necessary for our democracy to survive,” he said. “If people don’t speak up in public for safety and public health, what kind of society are we living in?”
Beecher sat behind a table in a large room at the Town Hall where a modest number of benches had been set out for attendants. The meeting had been scheduled to start five minutes earlier, and aside from Beecher and two reporters, there were a total of four residents there, one of whom would walk out in apparent disgust within the first five minutes.
“Yeah, it’s not easy,” Beecher said.
Scare stories threaten Maine smart meter rollout
Nov 30, 2010
We reported recently that Central Maine Power (CMP had asked the state’s Public Utilities Commission to dismiss complaints related to potential smart meter health, fire and security hazards. But after a town meeting in which complaining residents and CMP met to talk it out Monday night, it looks like the utility has a fight on its hands.
According to The Forecaster newspaper, the five-hour public forum barely finished hashing through the topic of health hazards at midnight — the fire and security issues had to be delayed. Small wonder. The forum, held in the small town of Scarborough (population: about 17,000, attracted meter opponents from more than 15 communities and two states other than Maine.
The complaints ranged from big business forcing residents into accepting products they don’t want to intense skepticism that smart meter-related health issues haven’t been adequately researched. Hudson, New York, resident Michele Hertz was quoted in the newspaper as saying the meters affected her concentration, made her agitated and caused headaches. “I’m not being paid to be here. I’m not a scientist. But I’m living proof — smart meters installed on my house made me sick. I really do not believe the electric companies are trying to hurt people, but they’re making a terrible mistake.” Local doctors chimed in, agreeing that health concerns were far from resolved.
Scientists hired by CMP went through technical explanations of the safety of the meters and compared the frequencies emitted by smart meters to those emitted by cellular and cordless phones. The Maine Center for Disease Control has acknowledged a lack of long-term studies on the issue, but said existing research showed no “consistent or convincing evidence” to support concerns for health problems related to the range and power of radio frequencies used in the meters. The PUC has not yet decided if it will dismiss the complaints or investigate them. CMP received a $96 million ARRA stimulus grant to support its smart grid project. About 56,000 smart meters have already been installed.
Jesse Berst’s Take: You have to appreciate the irony of someone who probably owns a roam phone, a cell phone, a microwave and a WiFi network testifying that smart meters made her agitated and caused her headaches, especially when you remember that smart meters broadcast perhaps 1% of the time.
UPDATE: After CMP defends ‘smart’ meters, Scarborough asks PUC to halt installations
By Emily Parkhurst
Nov 30, 2010 10:30 am
Scarborough resident Elisa Boxer-Cook, left, listens to a speaker during a Nov. 29 public hearing in Scarborough for people to voice concerns about Central Maine Power Co.’s “smart” meter project. Boxer-Cook is leading opposition to the meters, citing possible health effects from radiation emitted by the wireless meters. Representatives from CMP also attended the five-hour meeting and assured the public the meters are safe.
SCARBOROUGH — The Town Council voted unanimously Wednesday to ask the Maine Public Utilities Commission to prohibit Central Maine Power Co. from installing “smart” electric meters in town until more information about their safety is available.
The action came after a five-hour meeting with CMP officials on Monday, where residents lined up to speak out against the installation of the meters on their homes.
“It is the duty of council to protect the health, safety and welfare of our citizens,” council Vice Chairman Michael Wood said. “This is the follow-up (to Monday’s meeting) and an appropriate step in my view.”
The council’s letter will ask the PUC to provide an opt-out provision for customers who do not wish to have smart meters on their homes and also asks the regulatory agency to reopen the approval process that was ratified by the Legislature earlier this year.
“I wish more towns would do that,” Averyl Hill, a Scarborough resident who filed one of the two PUC complaints against CMP, said Wednesday. “We need their support.”
Emotions ran high at Monday’s public forum, where more than 90 people discussed their health concerns with the meters, which have already been installed on 56,000 homes and businesses.
While security and fire concerns were also on the agenda for discussion, the topics had to be delayed when midnight arrived and the discussion of possible health effects had barely concluded.
“It’s important to recognize how intimidating these large industries can be,” Rep. Andrea Boland, D-Sanford, said during the meeting. Boland introduced legislation last year that would have put warning labels on cellular telephones, which use the same type of frequencies as smart meters. Her cell phone legislation failed.
“There was only one Mainer who was not in the industry who testified against the warning labels,” Boland said. “That was (Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director) Dr. Dora Anne Mills. I’m concerned money has crept into considerations in government.”
The Maine CDC has released several documents defending the safety of smart meters, including a “frequently asked questions” pamphlet released Nov. 29 that acknowledges the lack of long-term studies proving the safety of the technology, but also says reviews of the research “pointed to no 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.”
Boland said legislators were uninformed about the potential risks when they voted to allow the smart meters.
In addition to Boland, speakers from more than 15 communities and two other states spoke out against the meters, many asking CMP for a formal opt-out provision that would offer a choice about having the meters installed.
“We’re in a position (where) we’re forced to buy product we don’t want,” said Scarborough resident Elisa Boxer-Cook, a critic of the wireless meters who has organized opposition and filed a formal complaint with the PUC. “We’re asking CMP to respect our concerns, to compromise with an opt-out solution. We think this is reasonable.”
Hudson, N.Y., resident Michele Hertz said smart meters reduced her ability to concentrate, made her agitated and caused headaches. “I’m not being paid to be here. I’m not a scientist. But I’m living proof — smart meters installed on my house made me sick,” she said. “I really do not believe the electric companies are trying to hurt people, but they’re making a terrible mistake.”
Several local doctors also spoke out against the meters.
“There are very few of us who are informed in any way about any of this,” Dr. Magili Quinn, a family practice doctor in Falmouth, said. Quinn said she contacted her stepson’s cardiologist to ask if his pacemaker would be affected by the meters and was told to call the manufacturer. “The specialists I rely on don’t even have any answers.”
Monday’s forum came after the Town Council passed a resolution on Oct. 20 asking CMP to wait 90 days before installing the wireless meters on customers’ homes and businesses. The towns of Cape Elizabeth and Sanford subsequently passed similar moratoriums.
“You should have to prove it’s safe first before you expose the public in massive experiment,” Dr. Sean McCloy, a family practice physician from Portland, said Monday.
Once the smart grid is fully installed, which is scheduled for early 2012, the meters will allow customers to view their electricity usage in real time and make decisions about turning off appliances during peak hours to save money. CMP received $96 million stimulus funding to support the grid upgrade and has estimated it will save a matching amount by eliminating the need for meter readers.
“We are moving from the 19th to the 21st century,” CMP spokesman John Carroll said. “This is a step forward for our company and something that’s very good for Maine and our customers.”
While CMP agreed to honor Scarborough’s requested installation delay until after the public forum, residents in Cape Elizabeth reported the company has moved forward with the installation despite the town’s request.
“Where’s the choice to use or not use the technology? Cape Elizabeth voted no. You said ‘we’re doing it anyway,’” McCloy said.
Ann Kaplan, a Cape Elizabeth resident, filed a letter in support of Boxer-Cook’s PUC complaint recently after she arrived home to find “a CMP employee with a box under his arm heading to my electric meter.”
Kaplan said she asked the employee if he was aware of the Town Council’s moratorium and he said that he was, but that he was going ahead with the installation anyway.
“We have certainly said to anyone who’s ever asked us if we’re stopping installation in Cape Elizabeth, we’re not,” Carroll said Monday. “If Cape Elizabeth councilors are asking for response, we’ve given it.”
Carroll indicated after the meeting Monday that he was not sure if CMP would continue to honor Scarborough’s moratorium now that the council-requested forum has happened.
The PUC has not decided whether to investigate or dismiss two complaints about the meters brought against CMP by customers in Scarborough. CMP has asked the regulatory agency to dismiss both complaints.
Boxer-Cook’s complaint cites concerns by doctors that those with sensitivity to the radiation the meters emit should be allowed to opt out of having the meters installed. Currently, there is no formal opt-out provision.
“If the PUC said it was appropriate to require an opt-out, we would have to do that,” Carroll said after the forum.
Elizabeth Kelley, founder of the Electromagnetic Safety Alliance, who spoke last week at a discussion of radio frequency radiation and smart meters in San Francisco, argued against the meters on Monday.
“At the conference in San Francisco, I had doctors come up after and ask for more information,” she said. “They said, ‘We can treat the symptoms, but we need to treat the cause.’”
Kelley called for more regulation of the radiation, citing strict regulations in Europe on exposing children to these kinds of radio frequencies.
“This grid represents the largest technology build-out in history,” Kelley said. “No federal agency is really looking after this.”
CMP-hired scientists also presented lengthy and technical explanations of the meters’ safety, comparing the frequencies to that of cellular and cordless phones. Dr. Yakov Shkolnikov, an engineer with California-based Exponent Consulting, said at peak radiation exposure, the meters are 1/1,000th of a cell phone and 50 percent of a common wireless Internet router.
The scientists also explained that the meters had lower average frequencies than many other common devices and that, even when a neighborhood is full of them, the devices would not be able to fire all at once.
“The meters share a frequency,” Shkolnikov said. “Only one can talk at a time.”
A second meeting to discuss cyber security and claims about smart meter fire risks is expected to be scheduled.
Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or firstname.lastname@example.org
This report was updated on Dec. 2
Maine Smart Meters – Stop the Invasion
CMP to begin ‘smart’ meter installation in York (Maine)
Central Maine Power will begin installing digital smart meters in York starting Monday, May 2, according to CMP spokesman John Carroll.
The new wireless meters are replacing current analogue devices on 620,000 homes and businesses statewide, a controversial move for the estimated 5,000 to 6,000customers who have told CMP not to install one.
Of the estimated 170,000 smart meters so far installed, three to four percent of CMP customers have opted out, citing health and privacy concerns, Carroll said earlier this month.
Health concerns center on radio frequency radiation. At 2.4 gigahertz, smart meters operate at the same broadcast frequency as cordless phones, Bluetooth earpieces, garage door openers and baby monitors. The smart meter two-way radio communication system sends information from pole-top relays to meters and back, and also from meter to meter. Electrical usage information is transmitted digitally to a central data management system, eliminating the need for meter readers to visit homes.>>
CMP asks Maine Public Utilities Commission to reject ‘smart’ meter opt-out option
May 03, 2011 8:00 am
AUGUSTA — Central Maine Power Co. wants the Maine Public Utilities Commission to disregard the recommendation of its staff that would allow customers to opt out of the company’s new wireless “smart” electrical meters.
CMP issued a response Friday to last week’s PUC staff recommendation that would provide customers two opt-out options: Keep the old wired meters or have a “smart” meter with the wireless capability disabled. Both options would require customers to pay extra fees to cover CMP’s cost for manual meter readers.
“CMP urges the Commission to reject the opt-out program presented by the Staff. There is simply no basis to conclude that CMP’s Smart Meter Project without a customer opt-out provision is ‘unreasonable, insufficient or unjustly discriminatory,’” the company wrote in its formal response, quoting the language used by the PUC in its announcement of the investigation earlier this year.
CMP also asked the commissioners to allow only the disabled “smart” meter option, if they decide to force the company to offer opt-outs, citing the cost of retaining the old technology.
“There is no justification for providing two such options and the only option offered should be the Staff’s proposed Transmitter-Off Option,” the response said.
The PUC staff’s analysis estimates approximately 9,000 of the more than 600,000 customers set to receive smart meters would choose to opt out, or about 1.5 percent. About 5,000 customers have already asked out of the program.
“We’re shocked, honestly, that CMP would ignore the concerns of 5,000 customers who’ve opted out so far,” lead PUC complainant Elisa Boxer-Cook of Scarborough said. “We also can’t understand why CMP would urge the PUC to reject the recommendation of its own staff, who’ve spent months crunching the numbers, investigating all the evidence, and determining that people should be able to keep their existing meter.”
The PUC ruled previously that it would not investigate claims that the “smart” meters caused health issues, and would instead rely on the investigation into offering opt-outs as an alternative. A bill that would require opt-outs has been tabled in the Legislature until the PUC rules, which is expected in late spring or early summer.
CMP also asked on April 29 that the PUC dismiss a complaint that addressed concerns that the meters may cause fires when installed on homes with older wiring.
After the complaint was filed last year, the commission asked CMP to take steps to address some of the concerns of the complaint, including auditing the work of the meter installation technicians, providing weekly incident reports to the PUC and obtaining a letter of agreement from the meter installation company guaranteeing the technicians do not receive quotas for how many meters they must install. CMP agreed to all the demands.
“I’m perplexed by CMP’s request to have the PUC dismiss my case as not having merit when the PUC has asked, in response to my complaint, for CMP to implement a number of safety-related procedures,” the complainant, Averyl Hill of Scarborough, said. “Those requests were a direct result of the past six months of technical conferences and data requests through the PUC process.”
Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125
November 19, 2011
Electronics on the fritz? Could be smart meters
The new meters have been interfering with customers’ household devices, CMP says.
By Edward D. Murphy email@example.com
If some appliances, computers or communications equipment have been working oddly lately, the Maine Public Advocate’s office said your electric meter may be to blame.
click image to enlarge
A spokesman for Central Maine Power says the company is aware of the problem with its smart meters, seen being installed last year in Portland, and has set up a special unit to handle complaints.
2010 Press Herald file
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The office put out a statement this week saying Central Maine Power Co.’s “smart meters” — which use low-power radio frequency transmissions to send meter readings to the company — are interfering with a wide range of household electronic devices, from garage door openers and WiFi devices to security systems.
A spokesman for Central Maine Power said the company is aware of the problem and has set up a special unit to handle complaints. It will send experts to people’s homes to make fixes, if needed, John Carroll said, and has bought new electronic devices for consumers in cases where it was not able to resolve the problem or if the equipment was damaged.
“For the most part, we can fix them fairly easily,” usually over the phone, Carroll said. He said CMP has received complaints from about 250 customers, only a tiny fraction of the 440,000 smart meters installed, with another 180,000 expected to go in by early next year.
But a critic of the devices said the small number of complaints may be due to people not making the connection between a smart meter and interference with wireless routers, phones, clocks and even invisible fences for pets.
“I think the majority of people who are having problems with their router or can’t stream their Netflix (movies) or whose dogs are zapped in their safe zones have no idea” it could be the smart meter, said Elisa Boxer-Cook, who founded the Smart Meter Safety Coalition.
Boxer-Cook started the group because of health concerns over the meters’ use of low-level microwave signals to send and receive information. But the interference issue is eclipsing that initial worry, she said.
Carroll said the meters operate on a common frequency and so interference is not a surprise. He likened it to picking up the transmission from a neighbor’s baby monitor on a phone.
He said the meters not only allow CMP to bill without sending a meter reader to home, but it also will give consumers more detailed information on energy usage and could save money if the company sets electric rates based on the time of day the energy is used.
Carroll said warnings about possible interference are included in the notice that CMP leaves on a doorknob when it installs a new meter and in information sent out to consumers as part of its opt-out procedure.
But Boxer-Cook noted that CMP was ordered to do that by the Maine Public Utilities Commission and noted that she’s heard from dozens of people with complaints about interference. She predicts CMP’s complaint numbers will rise when word of the Public Advocate’s warning spreads.
Boxer-Cook said she hopes that the news leads more consumers to opt out of the smart meter program, although she noted that the interference still could be caused by a neighbor’s smart meter. She said the company should also train installers to warn customers if they see devices that could be interfered with, such as a security system or invisible fence.
The Public Advocate’s office said information on interference can be found on CMP’s website. Consumers experiencing problems should call the company at (800) 750-4000 or can fill out an electronic form at the bottom of the company’s website page on smart meters: www.cmpco.com/smartmeter.
Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at: