WILTON – Central Maine Power has pulled its application from the planning board’s consideration tonight for a change-of-use permit on a privately-owned wind tower on Walker Hill Road where a Smart Meter transmission antenna was installed.
Central Maine Power was seeking an after-the-fact permit after residents alerted town officials that a transmission antenna had been installed on an old wind turbine tower without a change of use permit approved by the planning board.
CMP spokesman John Carroll said today the reason for canceling the permit application is because the Walker Hill Road residents are unhappy with the tower itself and doesn’t have anything to do with recent discussions on enacting a moratorium to try and stall the installation of Smart Meters in Wilton. Smart meters are wireless devices that use a radio frequency band to record energy usage.
“The tower itself is something of a controversy,” Carroll said and added, “we don’t want to add to that debate.”
The majority of selectmen voted this week to move ahead with a proposal to draft a moratorium on CMP’s Smart Meter Program installation for voters to consider at a special town meeting.
The Walker Hill Road tower isn’t needed for the continued installation of Smart Meters. About 100 meters have been installed so far in Wilton. Carroll noted that most of the Smart Meter antennas around the state are mounted on CMP’s utility poles.
If enacted, the moratorium won’t have an effect on the eventual Smart Meter installation progress.
One Maine town, Bath, enacted such a moratorium. Carroll called it “a temporary constraint” as the installation continues to move ahead there. More than 350,000 customers of a total of 620,000 CMP customers in Maine, have Smart Meters installed now. CMP hopes to complete its installation by next year.
What’s needed, Carroll said, is an understanding that the Smart Meters are wireless devices that operate the same way your automatic garage door opener, your cordless or cell phone, your baby monitor and your home computer’s WiFi works.
“We use wireless technology everywhere,” Carroll said of standard household appliances and machines. “There’s a lot of debate that’s really about radio frequency and the safety of it. If there are concerns, the larger question should really include pretty much everything we use today. We use WiFi in our schools; you don’t hear concerns about that.”
Another Smart Meter concern is that its radio frequency can interfere with other wireless device use. Carroll said of the 350,000 meters installed, not more than 200 customers have called to report interference with their home computer router, garage door opener or home security system use. He said customers call to report it and CMP will come to adjust the meter’s frequency so it doesn’t interfere with service.
“We’ve been able to correct any problems that arise,” he said.