smart meters

Answering your questions about smart meters

 

Information on how to read your new smart meter

 

Smart Meter Options

 

Information about our smart meter 

Understanding Usage

Network Security

Radio Frequency Interference

 Other information 

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What are the benefits of smart meters?

  • Smart meters will provide more information to both customers and CMP.  Customers will be able to access up-to-date usage information to track, manage, and control their own energy use. Customers' bills will be more accurate, because CMP will be able to download electronic readings every month, eliminating the occasional need for estimated billings. Customers moving to a new location or starting or stopping their electric service will see faster turnaround in making changes to their account.  The environment will benefit, too!  We’ll reduce the number of vehicles on the road by 2 million miles per year, reducing fossil fuels and eliminating 1,400 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.  Smart meters will allow us to pinpoint outages and respond more quickly, which means better service to you.   Back to TOP

Who owns the meter on my house or business?

  • CMP owns the electrical meter and the line that runs from the customer’s premise to the pole. The property owner owns the meter enclosure box and all of the wiring in the home or business.   Back to TOP

Will CMP be able to turn power off and on without sending a truck to the location?

  • Yes, for nearly all of our customers, their smart meters will allow for the Company to turn power on and off using this technology. For your safety, CMP recommends that the main breaker be turned off prior to any reconnection of service. Appliances that may have been left on, will resume operation once the service is turned on. Back to TOP

What does the red or green light mean on the smart meter?

  • The lights on the meter simply indicate the communications status of the meter and are also used to assist in troubleshooting.  Back to TOP

Is a smart meter safe for homes with older wiring?   

  • The smart meter does not impose any additional burden to the existing meter enclosure or house wiring, when compared to your existing meter. The meter installer has been trained to inspect your meter enclosure for any potential equipment concerns. This process could potentially uncover problems that otherwise would go unnoticed. This step was incorporated into our install process as a safety process for our installers, as well as our customers Back to TOP

Are Smart Meters safe?

  • Smart Meters and Safety Standards
    The low-power radio equipment in CMP’s smart meters is certified by the United States Federal Communications Commission, ensuring compliance with appropriate safety standards1. A smart meter communicates information about electricity use with other meters and with CMP by sending very brief radiofrequency (RF) signals. The Smart Meter transmits for less than a minute each day. Several familiar devices produce stronger RF fields, including cellular telephones, walkie-talkies, and cordless phones, which, in addition, are positioned close to the user for a longer period of time. Other common household devices that also use low-power radio signals include televisions, wireless internet systems, laptop computers, video game consoles, and baby monitors.   Back to TOP

    National and international organizations have developed exposure limits to ensure that these devices can be used safely. These were developed after comprehensive reviews of RF research; the organizations include the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the International Commission on Nonionizing Radiation Projection (ICNIRP), which is part of the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. National Commission on Radiological Protection, and Great Britain’s Health Protection Agency2. In the United States, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have also developed safety standards. The RF signals from smart meters in typical installations are tens to hundreds of times below levels specified in the FCC regulations and in standards as safe for everyday exposure.   Back to TOP

    To learn more about radio technology and safety, visit the Federal Communications Commission website for radio frequency safety at www.fcc.gov/oet/rfsafety. You can also visit Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention web site on Smart Meter Safety.


"The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention found no consistent or convincing evidence to support a concern for health effects related to the use of radio frequency in the range of frequencies and power used by smart meters."

Dr. Dora Anne Mills, MD, MPH
Director, Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention


1 The term “standards” refers to exposure limits recommended by scientific or health organizations that have reviewed and evaluated the relevant scientific research. 
2 The organization now includes the National Radiological Protection Board in the U.K. that formerly had responsibility for providing information and recommendations about radiofrequency fields and electromagnetic fields at other frequencies, as well as ionizing radiation sources.

customers.   Back to TOP


How will a smart meter help me manage my electricity use?

  • Recent research clearly demonstrates that information about energy usage, conservation, and energy efficiency helps consumers reduce their electricity use. The information available through smart meter technology could encourage some consumers to manage their energy use differently. In addition, smart meter technology will reduce operational costs for CMP and the company will be able to provide better customer service at lower costs for all consumers.   Back to TOP

How do I access information regarding my electrical usage on line?

  • Energy Manager, which gives you access to usage information on-line, is limited to customers in areas where we have completed all smart meter installations and testing. It will be coming to you soon.  Back to TOP

Will there be different pricing plans for customers who want to manage their energy use to lower-priced, “off-peak” periods? 

  • The Maine Public Utilities Commission introduced an Optional TOU Supply Price in December 2012. For more information, please visit http://www.maine.gov/mpuc/electricity/standard_offer_rates/current_sorates_cmp_tou.shtmlt
    Currently CMP does actually offer optional time-of-use rates for residential accounts.  There are 3 such rates and here is a link to the actual rates on our website <http://www.cmpco.com/YourHome/pricing/pricingSchedules/default.html>.  The rates are what we call A-TOU and A-TOU-OPTS.  Under A-TOU-OPTS there are 2 options: Super Saver and Savings Plus, which were designed for high-use customers prior to electric industry restructuring in Maine in March of 2000.  Under these rates it may be possible to save by shifting usage.
  • However, it is important to note that these rates are for CMP’s delivery service only.  Since March 2000, electricity supply for nearly all residential customers is supplied by the Standard Offer.  Currently the Maine Public Utilities Commission selects the Standard Offer provider(s) annually and determines the price.
  • It is also important to note that the Standard Offer price is the same 24/7 and there is currently no time-of-use Standard Offer supply option for residential customers.  Perhaps in the future the MPUC will establish one.  So this means that currently anyone on a time-of-use rate pays about 9 cents a kilowatt-hour for the electricity supply regardless of the time of day or the day of the week the power is used.  Under our basic residential rate, Rate A, the kilowatt-hour price for CMP delivery is about 6 cents, which is about 40% of the bill.  The rate schedules show the different delivery prices for the time-of-use rates.
  • If you are interested in any of these time-of use rates, please contact us to discuss this further.   Back to TOP

Will customers be required to purchase devices to view their daily usage?

  • No - Simply sign up for our FREE Energy Manager service to view your usage on-line.   Back to TOP

How much detail about my electricity use can I expect to see on line?

  • You will have access to your electricity use right down to the hour. You will also be able to compare your usage to similar households.   Back to TOP


Is CMP's meter network secure?

  • Cyber securty is nothing new to the utility industry. We have extensive experience maintaining cyber-security for information systems and operating the electricity grid. Installing smart meters adds a new component to our system, but the meters, communications, and information management will be subject to the same Department of Energy security standards that keep the grid secure.    Back to TOP

How will my personal data be protected?

  • CMP already protects private data about its customers’ accounts. The use of data encryption will keep this data safe during transmission.   Back to TOP

How is CMP protecting against hackers and security breaches?

  • CMP and other utilities already take careful measures to prevent unauthorized access to computers that control critical transmission and generation system. Cyber security is not new to us, and we routinely protect highly sensitive data from unauthorized access.   Back to TOP

Will unauthorized people be able to monitor my account to learn more about energy use in my home? Will this enable thieves to determine whether anyone is at home?

  • The use of encrypted signals will prevent unauthorized access to customer information or to equipment in customers’ homes or businesses.   Back to TOP

Will it be easier for someone to tamper with my meter and energy use?

  • Conventional meters are vulnerable to tampering, and CMP takes steps to prevent theft. AMI offers better security by providing more frequent information about usage and possible meter tampering.   Back to TOP


Do smart meters interfere with medical devices such as pacemakers?

The wireless signals from smart meters comply with all Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations for commonly used consumer wireless devices. The meters broadcast their signals in the 2.4 GHz to 2.483 GHz frequency range. Medical device manufacturers advise people to consult with their physicians regarding concerns about radio signal interference from wireless devices. For more information from the FCC regarding wireless safety and concerns about interference with medical devices, click here  Back to TOP

I know that Wi-Fi is safe and my home network runs 24/7. How does the Wi-Fi signal from my meter get to a CMP building?

  • The technology chosen by CMP for our Smart Meter infrastructure sends a signal, via radio waves, “over the air.” This technology utilizes equipment (repeaters and collectors) that receives the signal from a large volume of meters and then “hands off” this data to a “take-out point” (gateway). Data is transferred from the gateway, via a third-party public provider, to a CMP building in Augusta.
  • Repeaters and collectors are predominately mounted on existing CMP poles and gateways are predominately mounted on existing communication towers.   Back to TOP

Do smart meters interfere with power line communication equipment used in home automation?

  • The smart meter will not interfere with the power line communication equipment used in home automation. The power line communications do not affect the meter.    Back to TOP

I have solar power at my home - does the smart meter work with that?

  • For customers who use wind, solar or some other form of generation, we typically use two meters. One meter is wired normally so it measures and displays the energy (KWH) delivered into the customer's location. The other meter is wired backwards so it measures and displays the energy generated but not used by the customer that leaves the customer's location. At some point in the future, as we expand the new AMI system’s capabilities, one meter (bi-directional) may be able to be used to measure both directions.   Back to TOP

Does the smart meter interfere with my HAM radio or, will my HAM radio interfere with the smart meter?

  • No. Both devices will work. The smart meter transmits data for less than a minute on a daily basis.  To eliminate interference, if the meter senses RF communications in progress from other sources on its frequencies, it will wait and transmit at a later time.   Back to TOP

Do I have to call CMP if the power goes off?

  • Our new system will help us identify and respond to outages faster. It will still be important for you to call and report your outage to automatically generate a work order for your individual location. The system will then help us to predict outage impacts, identify trouble and restore and verify complete restoration of an area.   Back to TOP

Are smart meters susceptible to damage from severe weather?

  • Any meter or piece of outdoor equipment is susceptible to damage from extreme weather conditions. To keep the system working properly, we start by selecting high quality equipment, including meters, and we perform regular inspection and maintenance. Because we will receive daily communications from the smart meters, we will be able to detect issues promptly.   Back to TOP

Does the smart meter interfere with my other household appliances such as computer routers, television signal, cordless phones, etc.

  • Smart meters should not adversely affect the stability or performance of home wireless networks. Although WIFI network devices, including CMP’s smart meters, operate on the unlicensed 2.4 GHz frequency band, they don’t necessarily overlap on channels. In instances when they do overlap, different devices are designed to work in the presence of other radios using different protocols.
  • The FCC regulates all electronics to prevent one type of electronic equipment from interfering with other electronic and wireless devices that operate in the same frequency band. If you do experience interference, here are some tips that may help resolve the issue:
    • Location: Separating interfering devices usually reduces interference, so make sure the wireless device is located as far from the smart meter as possible. Also, adjust the position of the antenna on the device, if possible, and move the wireless device away from any walls that may absorb the signal. 
    • Frequency: In some instances, changing the operating frequency of your wireless devices will eliminate interference. For wireless enabled internet routers, a change to either Channel One or Channel Eleven is often effective. Wireless garage door openers, cordless phones, and other devices also often have a choice of channels or operating frequencies that can be selected to reduce or eliminate interference.
  • Manufacturer Installation Instructions: Check to ensure that your wireless device or devices have been installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  Some manufacturers may recommend using a surge protection device.   Back to TOP

If I have questions about my smart meter, who do I contact?

  • If you have questions about the installation of your new smart meter, you can call 1-877-887-0356, Monday - Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. or go to www.cmpco.comBack to TOP


Still have questions about smart meters? Please fill out the form below and we will respond to you promptly.

 
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