Maine public advocate: CMP's 'smart' meters may cause interference

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AUGUSTA — The Maine Office of the Public Advocate is warning Central Maine Power Co. customers that their new wireless “smart” electrical meters could be interfering with other electronic equipment.

CMP is replacing 620,000 traditional meters as part of a smart grid program supported by the U.S. Department of Energy. This will eliminate the company’s need to read the meters manually, and provide customers the ability to track their electricty use in real time.

Public Advocate Eric Bryant said CMP has received 251 complaints regarding radio-frequency interference from customers since the Maine Public Utilities Commission required the electric company to keep a log of the complaints earlier this year.

“This is the result of many complaints filed recently with the Public Utilities Commission,” Bryant said. “In this case, (the PUC) didn’t open an investigation, probably because CMP showed that they were helping people who were complaining about this problem.”

CMP has a section on its website dedicated to radio-frequency interference, and suggests customers who are experiencing the problem separate the device and the smart meter, adjust the position of the antenna if there is one, and move the wireless device away from any walls that might absorb the signal. Some devices utilize the same channels as the smart meters, and adjustment of those channels can fix the problem.

“We’re concerned here that there’s 200 or so customers that called CMP, and we’re concerned there are other customers out there who might not realize the interference they’re experiencing is from the smart meters,” Bryant said.

Customers with further questions can call CMP at 1-877-887-0356, Monday – Friday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., or go to www.vsimeterservices.com and click on the postcard icon.

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or eparkhurst@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @emilyparkhurst.

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