Information About Smart Meters
Smart meters provide more information to both customers and us.
- Customers can access up-to-date usage information to track, manage, and control their own energy use.
- We obtain electronic readings every month, eliminating the occasional need for estimated reads for billing.
- Customers moving to a new location or starting or stopping their electric service see faster turnaround in making changes to their account.
The environment benefits, too! We're reducing 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 allow us to pinpoint outages and respond quickly, which means better service to you.
Yes. You can learn about the smart meter types at our Smart Meter Options page.
Powered by your smart meter, our online Energy Manager tool lets you see how you use power hour by hour, day by day. You can understand when you use electricity, track your usage and compare your energy use to similar households. Sign up for Energy Manager.
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 reduces operational costs for us and the company can provide better customer service at lower costs for all consumers.
The Maine Public Utilities Commission introduced an Optional TOU Supply Price in December 2012. For more information, please visit Maine.gov/mpuc/electricity/standard_offer.
Currently we offer optional time-of-use rates for residential accounts. 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 our 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.
No - Simply sign up for our FREE Energy Manager service to view your usage on-line.
You have access to your electricity use right down to the hour. You can also compare your usage to similar households.
Cyber security is nothing new to the utility industry. We have extensive experience maintaining cyber-security for information systems and operating the electricity grid. While smart meters have added a new component to our system, the meters, communications, and information management are subject to the same Department of Energy security standards that keep the grid secure.
We protect private data and our customers' accounts. The use of data encryption keeps this data safe during transmission.
We and other utilities already take careful measures to prevent unauthorized access to computers that control critical transmission and generation systems. Cyber security is not new to us, and we routinely protect highly sensitive data from unauthorized access.
Smart meters offer better security by providing more frequent information about usage and possible meter tampering.
Radio Frequency Interference
Smart meters should not adversely affect the stability or performance of home wireless networks. Although WIFI network devices, including our 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.
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.
Visit FCC.gov for information regarding wireless safety and concerns about interference with medical devices.
The technology chosen by us 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 our building in Augusta.
Repeaters and collectors are predominately mounted on existing our poles and gateways are predominately mounted on existing communication towers.
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.
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.
Our system helps us identify and respond to outages fast. It is still 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.
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 receive daily communications from the smart meters, we are able to detect issues promptly.
We own 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.
Yes, for nearly all of our customers, smart meters allow us to turn power on and off using this technology. For your safety, we 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.
The lights on the smart meter simply indicate the communications status of the meter and are also used to assist in troubleshooting.
Smart Meters and Safety Standards
The low-power radio equipment in our 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 us by sending very brief radio frequency (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.
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.
To learn more about radio technology and safety, visit the Federal Communications Commission website for radio frequency safety at FCC.gov/oet/rfsafety.
"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
1The term “standards” refers to exposure limits recommended by scientific or health organizations that have reviewed and evaluated the relevant scientific research.
2The organization now includes the National Radiological Protection Board in the U.K. that formerly had responsibility for providing information and recommendations about radio frequency fields and electromagnetic fields at other frequencies, as well as ionizing radiation sources.
A smart meter does not impose any additional burden to the existing meter enclosure or house wiring. 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.