The smart meters that Central Maine Power Company (CMP) is installing throughout its territory pursuant to Commission approval are causing radio frequency interference with some customers’ electrical appliances, personal computers, and communications devices. To date, over 200 customers have contacted CMP about problems with a variety of appliances and devices including phones (cell, cordless, and landline), answering machines, Internet routers and wifi, personal computers, TVs, garage doors, fire alarms, clocks and even electric pet fences. The most common problem is interference with wireless internet routers, because they use similar radio frequencies. The problems can often be resolved by simply changing a setting on the device. Other concerns include malfunctioning phones, Internet routers crashing or freezing, damage to computer hard drives, static and clicking sounds on communication and computer gear, inability to stream Netflix, failure of TV remote, and other appliance malfunctions.
Public Advocate Richard Davies said, “We believe that these 200 plus customers are only a subset of those affected. CMP has already installed nearly 425,000 meters, so there may be many more customers who are having problems with devices and appliances, but don’t know that the problems may be caused by the smart meter. We have asked CMP to do a better job informing customers about these potential problems, and while CMP’s website does refer to the issue, we don’t think it goes far enough. My agency is troubled by the possibility that people may be spending their time and money fixing a problem that may be caused by CMP’s meters, and that can and should be fixed by CMP.”
CMP received the first calls about interference problems shortly after they began installing the meters last fall, and they continue to receive calls as meters are installed in more communities. “If customers notice that some appliances began malfunctioning soon after their smart meter was installed, they should contact CMP,” said Davies. “Customers can find information to correct common radio frequency interference problems on the CMP website, or they should call the company and ask for assistance.”