15 June 2021
Hallowell, Maine

MPUC Commissioners Continue in Callous Disregard for Ratepayers

This morning during Maine PUC deliberations beginning at 10 am, in less than 8 minutes the three commissioners rescinded a hard-fought electromechanical opt out from smart meters in place since 2011. The commissioner’s approved CMP’s request to replace aging electromechanical or analog meters with solid state digital meters the company admitted are smart meters minus the radio transmitters. These meters do have the capacity to accept radio and other modules. Citing an erroneous fact sheet from Central Hudson utility in NY state which conflates local magnetic fields from analog meters with RF emissions from digital meters, Commissioner Bartlett stated analog and “solid state” meters were equivalent in their safety and so recommended CMP’s request be approved. The two other commissioners concurred.

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Their decision ignores the science, ignored testimony pointing out problems with the Central Hudson report which CMP had cited and ignores the Commission’s earlier findings in their original opt out Order which stated:

We disagree with CMP’s argument that a smart meter opt-out program should not include an option for an electro-mechanical meter. In our view, providing two opt-out options will not be overly confusing to customers and, based on the smart meter complaints and customer letters, the vast majority of customers that have concerns regarding smart meters desire to maintain an existing meter. It would be of little purpose to provide an opt-out alternative in response to customer concerns when that alternative is not acceptable to most of the customers as a means to address those concerns.11

11 We expect CMP to take reasonable actions to maintain the equipment and resources necessary to support both opt-out options

The commissioners did not hold CMP accountable for ignoring the opt out condition that they maintain enough analog meters for any opt out customer and they ignored ample testimony presented on readily available certified refurbished electromechanical meters that could be used here as they are by many other utilities. Testimony in this docket was overwhelmingly against CMP’s proposal. Unaddressed was the timing of meter replacement-only when and if analogs fail or as a methodical universal replacement of analogs and how opt out fees would be affected as currently they are two-tiered with more expensive fees for the analog than smart or solid state meter without transmitter. There are new PUC commissioners since 2011 but staff and the agencies regulatory capture by CMP remain the same. A formal complaint to the commission is under consideration.

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mpuc-cms.maine.gov/CQM.Public.WebUI/Common/CaseMaster.aspx?CaseNumber=2019-00044 — Docket link

mpuc-cms.maine.gov/CQM.Public.WebUI/MatterManagement/MatterFilingItem.aspx?FilingSeq=110963&CaseNumber=2019-00044 — Corrected Final Order