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Entries in CMP (9)


Maine Supreme Judicial Court Affirms MPUC’s Finding that Smart Meters Pose No Credible Health or Safety Threat

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the Maine Public Utilities Commission’s decision that Central Maine Power Company’s advanced metering infrastructure (“AMI”) system (aka “smart meters”) pose no credible threat to the health and safety of Central Maine Power Company (“CMP”) customers. Friedman v. PUC, 2016 ME 19, — A.3d —. In a lengthy legal battle spanning more than five years, Ed Friedman and other CMP customers, challenged the use of smart meters on health and safety grounds.

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Utility v. Marina: Who Pays for Injuries Resulting from Contact with High-Voltage Electric Lines?

When a marina employee is electrocuted and severely injured because the boat mast he held contacted a high-voltage electric line, who ultimately bears the cost of compensating the employee for his injuries? The Maine Supreme Judicial Court (sitting as the “Law Court”) recently addressed that question and found that, under Maine law, the marina/employer may ultimately bear the cost, rather than the utility that owns the power line. Moreover, the employer may bear the cost even if the utility is negligent.

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Energy News Roundup: December 1-December 7

This week in regional energy news …


Maine Supreme Judicial Court Finds Health and Safety Concerns of CMP Smart-Meters Unresolved by MPUC 

Today, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the Maine Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) erred by not resolving health and safety concerns raised by some Central Maine Power Company (CMP) customers in relation to CMP’s wireless “smart-meter” technology. (Friedman v. PUC, 2012 ME 90). 

The Court rejected several arguments made by the customers related to privacy, trespass and constitutional issues.  The Court found that while the MPUC considered the health and safety concerns to some extent, it failed to resolve the concerns or determine whether CMP’s smart-meter technology is safe.  The Court remanded the case to the MPUC for further proceedings to address the health and safety concerns raised. 


Maine Public Utilities Commission Approves Transmission Reinforcement in Western Maine


The MPUC granted a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for Central Maine Power Company’s proposed Somerset County Reinforcement Project, a 115 kV, 39-mile transmission line in western Maine.  Although the line was initially proposed as part of CMP’s Maine Power Reliability Program, this particular component of the project was not initially approved by the MPUC when the MPUC approved the MPRP in June 2010.  After further proceedings, the Commission approved a stipulation in which several parties agreed that there was a need for the line, but others contested the need for the proposed transmission solution on various grounds.  The Commission found that although a re-rate of an existing line is an option that could address the demonstrated reliability need, the new line would provide several additional benefits.  Among the additional benefits, the Commission found that the new line would advance Maine’s policy of promoting cost-effective development of renewable generation.  It will enable the development of wind generation in western Maine.



First Wind's Rollins Wind Project Commences Commercial Operation

On Wednesday, July 20, First Wind cut the ribbon and celebrated the completion and commercial  operation of the Rollins Wind project.  The project is expected to generate 60 MW of renewable energy, which is enough to power 23,000 Maine homes per year.  Completion of the project involved significant contributions from Verrill Dana attorneys Juliet Browne, Kelly Boden, Tony Calcagni, Gordy Smith and Scott Anderson.  First Wind will sell the output of the Rollins Wind project to Bangor Hydro Electric Company and Central Maine Power Company pursuant to long term contracts with each utility.



Smart Meter Opt-Out for CMP Customers Approved by MPUC

During Tuesday’s deliberations, the Maine Public Utilities Commission approved smart meter opt-out options for Central Maine Power customers.  The Commission approved two smart meter opt-out options: (1) the option of installing a smart meter with its transmitter turned off and (2) the ability to retain the existing analog meter.  Additionally, customers may choose to relocate smart meters to a different location on the customer’s property, at the customer’s expense.

Both opt-out choices come with costs that must be paid by the customers who select to opt out.  Choosing a digital smart meter with the wireless transmitter turned off will carry an initial charge of $20, plus a $10.50 monthly charge.  Retaining an existing mechanical meter will cost $40 initially, plus a $12 monthly charge.  Low-income residents may qualify for a 50% subsidy of the opt-out cost.  Depending on how many customers ultimately choose something other than a standard smart meter, the costs may be adjusted in the future. So far, an estimated 1% of all customers have asked not to have the new meters installed at their homes and businesses.

Commissioner Vafiades emphasized the need to move forward by shifting the focus to the benefits of smart meters, while allowing those who reject smart meters to opt out: “Based on sound public policy, as allowed by statute and taking into consideration all public correspondence and filings, we conclude that offering a smart meter opt-out options is reasonable and in the public interest. For the long term success of smart meter implementation and to maximize its potential to the fullest, the public needs to be actively engaged in monitoring their usage and real-time price of electricity and modifying their behavior accordingly. To achieve this goal, we need to shift the focus to the benefits of smart meters and allow the small minority to opt out.”

Commissioner Littell noted the Commission’s thorough review of customer concerns and the range of options now available: “We have reviewed every filing, every complaint and every letter sent to this Commission regarding smart meters. Based on our review, we conclude that any CMP residential or small commercial customer should have four choices: 1) the default smart meter which will become the standard meter in CMP territory; 2) the ability to select a smart meter with the transmitter-off; 3) the ability to keep the customer’s existing analog meter; or, 4) the ability to move the new smart meters elsewhere on their property at the customer’s expense.”