During Tuesday’s deliberations, the Maine Public Utilities Commission approved smart meter opt-out options for Central Maine Power customers. The Commission approved two smart meter opt-out options: (1) the option of installing a smart meter with its transmitter turned off and (2) the ability to retain the existing analog meter. Additionally, customers may choose to relocate smart meters to a different location on the customer’s property, at the customer’s expense.
Both opt-out choices come with costs that must be paid by the customers who select to opt out. Choosing a digital smart meter with the wireless transmitter turned off will carry an initial charge of $20, plus a $10.50 monthly charge. Retaining an existing mechanical meter will cost $40 initially, plus a $12 monthly charge. Low-income residents may qualify for a 50% subsidy of the opt-out cost. Depending on how many customers ultimately choose something other than a standard smart meter, the costs may be adjusted in the future. So far, an estimated 1% of all customers have asked not to have the new meters installed at their homes and businesses.
Commissioner Vafiades emphasized the need to move forward by shifting the focus to the benefits of smart meters, while allowing those who reject smart meters to opt out: “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 Littell noted the Commission’s thorough review of customer concerns and the range of options now available: “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: 1) the default smart meter which will become the standard meter in CMP territory; 2) the ability to select a smart meter with the transmitter-off; 3) the ability to keep the customer’s existing analog meter; or, 4) the ability to move the new smart meters elsewhere on their property at the customer’s expense.”