Our electricity delivery system is getting
smarter - one meter at a time
Central Maine Power Company has begun installing smart meters.
Smart meters use electronic data recording and two-way communication technology and, in the near future, will provide you with more detailed information about energy usage and enhanced services. These meters are part of our effort to upgrade to a state-of-the-art electricity delivery system for Maine.
The smart meter has a digital display instead of the dials on the old meter. CMP's smart meters are wireless and use a radio frequency band to communicate.
All CMP customers will receive a standard smart meter. Meter options are available to customers who do not want a smart meter. Please click here.
Smart meter installation
VSI Meter Services will install smart meters. You don't have to do any thing to prepare for the installation or be present to have your new meter installed. The process will take about 10 minutes and your power will be interrupted briefly during the installation.
Smart Meter Options
Answering your questions about smart meters
Information on how to read your new smart meter
Information about our smart meter
Radio Frequency Interference
Other important information
Smart Meter Stimulus grant
What is a smart meter?
- Smart meters measure and record the amount of electricity used in a home or business, just like the mechanical meters that have been working on homes and businesses for years. Instead of the gears and dials in older meters, smart meters use digital technology and have no moving parts. Back to TOP
Why is CMP installing smart meters?
- The smart meter installation is an upgrade to newer technology that will improve our service to you. 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.
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
When will you install the meter at my house?
- It will take us about eighteen months to install all of our customers' meters. CMP will begin installations in September of 2010 and expects to finish in early 2012. Back to TOP
Will CMP publish an installation plan including time tables by location?
- CMP routinely replaces more than 15,000 meters a year for maintenance, repair, and testing. Installing our new smart meters is equally straightforward. In most cases, we have good access to the meter; customers don’t need to take any special steps in preparation. In fact, they don’t even need to be present. We do not publish the installation schedule in advance, although we will meet with municipal and public safety officials in each town shortly before we begin installations. In addition, we will knock on your door before replacing the meter so, if you are home, you will be aware of the work taking place. Once installation has been completed, our installers will leave a card behind to inform you that a new, smart meter has been installed. Back to TOP
Do I need to do anything to my home or business before you install the new meter?
- No. You won’t need to make any changes to your meter enclosure or wiring. On the day of the installation, your power will be briefly interrupted. After the meter is installed, you won’t notice any difference in your service. Back to TOP
How long does it take to install the new meter?
- It generally takes less than 10 minutes to remove the old meter and replace it with a smart meter. If your meter is located outside, the meter technician will be able to replace the meter without any access to your home or business. Back to TOP
Will I have to pay for the new meter?
- Customers will not have to pay a special charge for the standard smart meter. The cost of the replacement is included in your normal monthly bill, just like other costs of CMP’s service. Customers selecting a meter option other than the standard smart meter will pay additional charges. Please click here to learn more 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
Is a smart meter safe for homes with older wiring?
- The new Smart Meter does not impose any additional burden to the existing meter enclosure or house wiring, when compared to your existing meter.
- Additionally, prior to the new Smart Meter being installed, 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
What will the new meter look like?
- From a few steps back, you’ll hardly be able to tell the difference between the meter you have now and the smart meter. It is very similar in size and shape. It even fits in the same meter enclosure on your house. Back to TOP
How will CMP’s new smart meters operate in Maine’s cold weather climate?
- The meters being utilized are required to be certified by the American National Standard Institute (ANSI). Within this certificate requirement is an extensive temperature range (both hot and cold) that the Smart Meter is required and operates within. In regards to weatherproofing, the basic housing construction of the new Smart Meter is very similar to the existing meter on your home that has been in production for decades. Back to TOP
What is the make and model of the meter you are installing?
CMP is installing a variety of meter makes and models depending on the customer’s home or facility and power requirements. You can identify which meter is installed on your home by viewing the meter nameplate once your Smart Meter has been installed. Back to TOP
Will a smart meter affect the way I connect and use a generator?
- No, there will be no impact to your generator. 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. 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
How will a smart meter help me save money on my electricity bill?
- 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?
- The installation of the smart meter is the first step in delivering new and better service for customers. Later this year, customers will be able to see detailed information about their energy use on the CMP Web site to help them manage their energy use and save money. The information from your meter will be accessible on line in late 2011. Until then, please watch your CMP bill inserts and our Web site for more details on smart meter features and how to use them. Back to TOP
I have heard that consumers in other States saw their bills go up after getting a smart meter. Is that true?
- A report issued in July 2010 by an independent consultant for the Public Utilities Commission of Texas said that “based on the results of accuracy tests, 5,625 of the 5,627 meters [tested] (or 99.96%) were determined to be accurate by ANSI standards.” The consultant’s research also found that the advanced meters “consistently performed better than the electromechanical meters.”
In September 2010, a study commissioned by the California Public Utilities Commission reported a similar finding, concluding that smart meters installed by PG&E “are accurately recording electric usage within acceptable CPUC tolerances, and are being accurately utilized in Customer billing.” Back to TOP
Will there be different rate plans for customers who want to manage their energy use to lower period, “off-peak” periods?
- 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?
- Customers will have several ways to review their daily usage at no cost. First, smart meters have an easy-to-read digital display making it convenient for customers who would like to get a reading to monitor their usage. Second, customers with smart meters will also have the ability to view detailed usage information for the prior day on CMP’s website for no cost starting in the Fall of 2011. And third, we expect some customers will take advantage of new technology to get direct access to real-time usage information using in-home network devices. When and what type of device they purchase will be the consumer’s choice, but any way you look at it, smart meters provide many options for customers to access up-to-date usage information to track, manage, and control their energy use. Back to TOP
How much detail about my electricity use can I expect to see on line?
- In the Fall of 2011, customers with smart meters will be able to view their individual electricity usage on line. You will be able to view all the data that has been measured by the smart meter since it was installed. The web portal will build a history of consumption data up to 13 months. You will be able to view your data per hour up to a year. Back to TOP
Is the new smart 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
Will 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 3rd 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
Will the new 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 - how will this new meter work?
- For customers who use wind, solar or some other form of generation, we typically use 2 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
Will 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
Will 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
Should I be shoveling a path to my meter?
- It will take a year to get a smart meter installed and all of them running for every customer. Therefore, it remains a good idea to keep a clear path so we can safely get an actual read of your usage. We do appreciate it! 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
Will 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:
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
- 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.
If I have questions about my smart meter installation, 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, 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. or go to www.vsimeterservices.com and click on the postcard icon. Back to TOP
A Few Questions About CMP’s Smart Grid Stimulus Grant
Why did the federal government give CMP a grant to install new meters?
CMP received a $96 million grant from the federal government as part of the Smart Grid Investment Grant program, which was funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The purpose of the grant program is to accelerate the modernization of the nation’s electric transmission and distribution systems and promote investments in smart grid technologies, tools, and techniques. To learn more about the Smart Grid Investment Grant program and the Recovery Act, click here
. Back to TOP
Will my electricity bill increase to pay for these new meters?
CMP does not expect this to increase rates. Because the technology will allow CMP to increase its efficiency, the company will recover much of the costs through operational savings. The federal grant will cover the balance. Customers can use the more complete and timely information smart meters provide about their usage and costs to make informed choices in how they buy electricity. Back to TOP
The Smart Grid system will eliminate jobs for meter readers. Isn’t this just increasing unemployment?
- The installation of smart grid equipment in 2010 will create almost 200 jobs for the duration of the project sometime in 2012. That will be a valuable stimulus for Maine’s economy. Once in place, the smart meter technology will automate the manual task of reading all of our 600,000 meters every month, eliminating nearly 2 million miles of driving each year. That’s good for customers and the environment.
- As in many other businesses, the use of new technology will allow us to provide better service with a smaller workforce. Many of the jobs needed to take meter-by-meter readings will no longer be necessary. Recognizing our responsibility to these employees, Central Maine Power and IBEW Local 1837 recently negotiated an Enhanced Transition Agreement relating to the Advanced Meter Infrastructure project. It provides a clear framework for managing the installation of CMP’s smart meter system, and a workforce management plan with generous opportunities for voluntary retirements, re-assignments, and support for those whose jobs will be displaced by this technology. Over the next 18 months, we expect significant changes in our workforce, but it is uncertain how many will choose retirement, find new assignments within the company, or accept a voluntary severance with the enhanced benefits we have been able to offer. Back to TOP
Still have questions about smart meters? Please fill out the form below and we will respond to you promptly.