'Smart' meter opponents take case to Maine's highest court

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PORTLAND — Opponents of Central Maine Power Co.’s “smart” electrical meters have appealed of the Maine Public Utility Commission’s dismissal of their complaint.

The group filed with the Maine Supreme Judicial Court in Portland on Jan. 10 to overturn the PUC’s decision not to investigate claims that the wireless meters have health, safety and privacy issues, and are an invasion of privacy.

Last year, the PUC ruled that CMP must offer customers the ability to opt out of having the meters installed on their homes or businesses if they pay an initial opt-out fee, followed by a monthly charge to have CMP read the meter manually.

However, some opponents of the meters have said the opt-out decision does not go far enough because the PUC has a legislative mandate to “ensure safe, reasonable and adequate service,” and that requiring people to pay to opt out is equivalent to blackmail.

The Maine Center for Disease Control previously said it did not find “any 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.”

That was before the World Health Organization last year listed radiation from cell phones and other wireless devices, such as smart meters, as a possible carcinogen.

CMP has repeatedly said it is not the company’s job to determine whether the meters are safe. The installation of the meters was paid for by federal grants from the Department of Energy.

The company is scheduled to complete the installation of 620,000 meters throughout the state in the first quarter of this year.

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