LEWISTON — The first 46 of Lewiston’s 19,173 Central Maine Power Co. customers should get new electric meters next month, as part of the company’s smart-meter replacement program.
Kay Rand, representing CMP, said customers living along the eastern part of the city should have received notice from the company by mail. Those customers, members of the Brunswick service area, will begin receiving new electric meters in late August.
CMP should begin replacing meters in the rest of the city and for customers in Auburn in the fall. Those customers should look for CMP mailings in September.
Smart meters are designed to send billing information, as well as hourly household electric use data, to CMP. Customers can call up their statistics on CMP’s website and use the information to limit use and save on electricity costs.
The meters will also notify the company in case of an outage, hopefully speeding repairs, and will let the company turn power to customers on and off more easily.
Rand said the company had originally planned to replace all Maine electric meters with the smart meters, but privacy concerns among many people forced the company to offer three plans.
The plans have been approved by the Maine Public Utilities Commission, Rand said.
“They’ve been intended to reimburse real costs that were calculated by the PUC and protect customers who use the smart meters from covering those costs,” he said. “CMP was planning to go to one billing system, but now they need a redundant system and there is a cost to that.”
The installations are being done by VSI Meter Services and should take about 15 minutes. It requires all power to the home or business to be shut down, like a short power interruption.
All customers should receive brochures and response cards from CMP in the next few months. Those who want to get the new smart meters don’t have to do anything. Customers also can choose to get smart meters with the wireless transmitters deactivated or old electro-mechanical meters, by returning the response card.
Those who choose to get deactivated smart meters will pay a $20, one-time charge, plus an additional $10.50 per month. CMP will still send meter readers to those addresses. They’ll collect the smart meter’s hourly data and upload it to CMP’s system. Customers will still be able to keep track of their hourly electrical use, but that data will only be updated monthly.
Customers who opt for electro-mechanical meters will pay an additional $40 up front, plus $12 each month. Those meters only record basic household electrical use.
“The old meters are not being manufactured any longer,” Rand said. “CMP is re-purposing the old supply to make sure they have them available. And the smart meters with the transmitters turned off require a software redesign. And of course, the monthly charges are there (in part) to pay for the meter readers who are going to have to go out.”