What’s up with MPUC?

In March 2009, the Maine Public Utilities Commission directed Central Maine Power Co. to apply for stimulus funds (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) for automated metering infrastructure. AMI technology automates monthly meter reading — consumer kilowatt usage is transmitted electronically, rather than collected manually by employees.  
MPUC gave this direction, despite the November 2008 Bench Analysis (Docket 2007-215), which recommended CMP “does not” pursue AMI investment due to lack of research regarding projected costs and benefits.
Why would MPUC require CMP to secure taxpayer provided stimulus money without further research on cost and benefits? Has new evidence of cost-effectiveness been provided since October 2008? Where is the data for this turnaround decision?
Maine power grid updates are long overdue, especially high-voltage transmission lines and reliability. Owned by Spanish Iberdrola, CMP posted net annual profit of approximately $55 million last year. Stimulus package funding for AMI would lead to elimination of approximately 100 high-paying jobs. Is this the purpose of ARRA — to eliminate more jobs with benefits? Will the public’s electric rates ultimately be raised, per CMP’s concern in October 2008?
The ARRA’s purpose was to create jobs and stimulate the country’s economy. How does implementing an automated metering infrastructure stimulate Maine’s economy, especially when Maine has other urgent power grid needs?
Is it responsible to use stimulus funds toward uncertain improvement and eliminate jobs?
Recommendations by the MPUC should be well-planned, researched, and cost-effective, to benefit Maine citizens for the future.
Elizabeth Enright, Naples

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