Maine smart meter program nets ratepayer complaints

The Maine Public Utilities Commission plans to investigate whether Central Maine Power’s smart meter initiative is discriminatory against ratepayers, the regulatory agency said this week.

The commission approved implementation of a smart grid program at Augusta-based Central Maine Power, including smart meter installation, in February 2010. The project aims to reduce utility operational costs, give ratepayers tools to use electricity more efficiently, improve customer service and enhance storm restoration efforts.

But the PUC said it has received complaints about the lack of an opt-out option from Central Maine Power for the smart meter installation. The commission said it plans to investigate whether this approach is "unreasonable, insufficient or unjustly discriminatory."

Central Maine Power estimated the smart meters would save customers $25 million over 20 years in operational savings alone.

In October 2009, the utility received a $95.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to install smart meters for all of its residential, commercial and industrial customers — or about 650,000 meters. The DOE grant is helping to fund approximately half of the program’s cost, the PUC said.

Read more in Mass High Tech.

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