SOUTH PORTLAND – Central Maine Power has installed more than 6,000 smart meters in South Portland.

But it was just this week that they held a public forum (in Scarborough) to discuss or share the whole picture of these smart meters. While it is holding off temporarily when people object, CMP is not giving a permanent choice to those who do not want them, either.

The smart meter system has been referred to as “similar” to the Internet, but the numbers have not been shared with the public. A wi-fi router’s wattage is one-10th of a watt, whereas the repeater, nodes and gateways that support the smart meters are one watt. What does that look like quantitatively in South Portland? What about when you add that to the neighboring towns?

It is no surprise that CMP chose this time to install their smart meters. Do our lawmakers and the decision-makers at CMP bank on the fact that most of us are too busy to care and take the time to do the research?

I went to the CMP website and there found the groups that they stated were in support of smart meter use. In the abstracts, the researchers stated that research on hazards was inconclusive. The FCC standard that CMP is using to back its decision was established in 1985 and was based on a 185-pound male and microwave use to prevent death by electrical shock. We are all essentially guinea pigs.

I am not surprised that the public knows very little about the smart meters.

I applaud Scarborough’s Town Council and its resolution to hold off on the smart meters until there is more information, along with Sanford’s request for the same. They are not asking for a ban. They are asking for more information.

CMP claims installation is keeping up with technology. How many times in history have we framed something as a technological advance only to later realize it was harmful? The company stated that it was going to save the customer and their company money, that the over 100 workers that are going to be laid off would be supported in finding new jobs.

What can they really do in an economy that has a state unemployment rate of 7.7 percent and national one two points higher? Could CMP share its cost-benefit analysis with the public so we can learn about the possible risks and make our own choices? Do we choose to trade cost savings for potential health risks?

The downside of technology might be that there are no long-term studies to indicate the health benefits or risk associated with this new device. Is it really like attaching a cell phone to the side of our house?

What about the cumulative effect of all of this technology: microwaves, cell phones, wireless connections, cable television, baby monitors? What about the myriad of components of the system? What does the distribution of hardware look like?

What about the number of smart meters on buildings such as apartment buildings, university buildings, health care facilities or any building that has multiple users of electricity?

How much does the public know about all of these devices or their potential health risks? CMP has not explained any of this to the public. No one even knows what to ask. What if the company is wrong?

 

– Special to The Press Herald