The Maine Public Utility Commission shocked the industry when it was one of the first states to open an opt-out investigation and subsequently order a smart meter opt-out. Despite taking these steps that many in the utility industry disagree with, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court recently told the MPUC it failed to adequately address the health and safety concerns raised regarding smart meters. This stems from an appeal taken by a customer of Central Maine Power over a dismissed complaint regarding the Commission’s opt-out order.
The complaint by 19 CMP customers requested a new investigation due to “new and important evidence specifically addressing non-ionizing radiation of the type emitted by smart meters.” The complaint states there was a May 31, 2011 press release from the World Health Organization that classified RF radiation as possibly carcinogenic to humans. The Appellate Court held the Commission erred in dismissing the complaint because it did not adequately address the health and safety concerns. The MPUC concluded the appropriate entity to consider potential RF health impacts is the FCC in consultation with the Food and Drug Administration. In spite of conducting an investigation, the Commission made no determination on the merits of health, safety, privacy or security concerns regarding wireless smart meters. Without considering the health and safety issues, the Court concluded the Commission could not find the opt-out fee was not reasonable.
Despite the yo-yo effect, this decision will be beneficial to utilities in the long run. It will finally force the industry to engage in independent research to address the health concerns. Then maybe we can all live smart.