Wednesday, April 16, 2014
SOUTH PORTLAND - I absolutely disagree with CMP President Sara Burns' assessment and assertions in her March 23 column defending smart meters.
Electricity meters that emit radio frequency waves to permit remote readings have drawn criticism.
Staff file photo
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Teresa Swinbourne is a resident of South Portland.
The Office of the Public Advocate's position in response to CMP's practice and its disregard of its customers was warranted.
As one of the lead complainants against Central Maine Power, I have worked closely with the Office of the Public Advocate. Its work is above and beyond helpful. Last year the public advocate argued against the Advanced Metering Infrastructure implementation, to no avail.
Now the Office of the Public Advocate finds itself responding to and participating against something it knew in its better judgment was not in the general public's favor. The office also advocated for customer education on the AMI project, more widely known as smart meters. Well, that did not happen either.
CMP continues to operate as only a monopoly can. It is not as if we are able to shop around and find the best deal. We have one electricity deliverer in southern Maine, and we are subject to the decisions that CMP makes in light of its shareholders' interests.
I would align myself more with the position of the Connecticut attorney general. On Feb. 8, he submitted a brief or filing against his state's electric company and its desire to change its meters to a program similar to CMP's AMI program.
In so many words he stated that it was an undue burden to place on customers for a very limited benefit.
What CMP is not talking about is all that its clients have to gain through this endeavor. And I want to be perfectly clear that when I say "clients," I am not talking about CMP customers. We are not CMP's clients.
Sara Burns also stated in CMP's defense, "Our smart meter plan will meet the goals of Maine's 2009 Smart Grid Policy Act, which calls for the introduction of new technology to empower consumers, and improve the reliability of the grid."
And yet, CMP cannot offer any concrete evidence as to how we will be empowered as customers.
Central Maine Power and its lobbyists influenced this Smart Grid Policy Act, and they did so in a very calculated manner.
The Smart Grid Policy Act did not indicate that all meters would have to be changed to wireless devices. Yet, CMP is able to hide behind this legislation, stating that it is only doing what it was ordered to do.
And now, CMP has received the backing of the Public Utilities Commission, which in a "tentative order" from its two active members says it will not review the smart meter plan or study the effects of the meters themselves on people.
Since when do utility companies make our choices?
Sara Burns misleads in her comments. Our complaints against CMP do not revolve around anti-wireless animus and advanced technology. We are not against digital clocks, etc. How silly.
We are for customers regaining choice in reference to a utility company that remains a monopoly. We are against a monopoly deciding unilaterally, without any customer input, how to move forward providing a delivery service of electricity.
We can utilize smart grid functionality without wireless. Hardwired, digital meters can offer the same "advantages."
CMP's profit margins are in excess of hundreds of millions of dollars, and the company is only seeking more.
Most Mainers are middle-income earners. Most of them are not going to sit at their computers and watch their real-time usage and make changes in their use of electricity.
The average CMP bill is around $75. Everyone is trying to make ends meet as our only electric company sneaks in a technology upgrade.
Could we please talk plainly and in simple terms? Am I living a pipe dream thinking honesty should be included in that question? Why do we have to trade honesty?
CMP continues to say that the PUC and the legislators and national trends forced its hand in this smart meter implementation.
I say it is not too late to turn back, or to start telling the whole story.
- Special to the Press Herald