The Maine Public Utilities Commission voted yesterday to investigate whether smart meters installed by Central Maine Power Co. pose a safety or health hazard to the public. The decision comes nearly two weeks after the Maine Supreme Judicial Court found in partial favor of an appeal that argued the PUC didn't adequately address safety concerns when it approved CMP's smart-meter project.
The PUC voted to have key parties meet Aug. 2 to determine the schedule and scope of a review of the wireless meters, according to the Portland Press Herald. It could be the first state utility regulatory agency in the country to hold public hearings or do its own research on potential harm from radio-frequency radiation given off by the meters. California regulators have begun the process but haven't held hearings yet, according to the paper.
In its decision, the court said the PUC should have looked into health and safety concerns surrounding the wireless meters, and directed the PUC to take up those issues. The decision comes from an appeal filed in March by a 19-person group challenging the PUC's dismissal of its complaint that regulators didn't adequately address privacy and safety concerns. The court, however, did not agree with the group that the meters are a constitutional violation of privacy.
The PUC in 2010 gave CMP the go-ahead to switch out 165,000 meters, a project that cost $200 million and was half-funded with stimulus dollars. In a statement, CMP said the ruling didn't include a stay on its operations, so the decision has no immediate effect unless the PUC takes other action.