Maine smart meter swap promised savings that never came

6/23/19 - By Tux TurkelStaff Writer

The promise was that smart meters would give home customers real-time information on electricity costs, so they could shift power use to when it’s less expensive. Dry your clothes at 10 p.m. and save a few cents. To encourage that outcome, taxpayers chipped in $96 million to install smart meters.

But what few people understood at the time was that the potential couldn’t be realized until CMP upgraded its vintage billing system. Additionally, CMP only delivers the power to 620,000 Mainers’ homes. The companies that generate electricity also had to buy-in to real-time pricing.

CMP’s upgrade was deferred and delayed for years. When SmartCare, the new billing system, was finally launched in 2017, it was plagued with problems and complaints that are still being resolved.

And real-time pricing for home customers? It doesn’t exist in Maine.

The reasons why are complicated.

First, CMP had to install smart meters, which digitally measure and transmit electricity use by the hour. The meters can upload a wealth of detailed data about electricity use over the internet, allowing for things like charging different rates at different hours. They also reduce the need to build new power plants, or run older generators that are less efficient and emit more pollution.

Then CMP had to upgrade its billing system so the digital meters could communicate with the system that tracks and bills customers for their electricity use. Those changes are now in place.

But energy suppliers are not. Electricity suppliers negotiate their prices on a regional grid. Consumers have the option of buying their electricity from a generator whose prices change weekly or monthly, known as competitive energy suppliers. But the vast of majority of Mainers – about 85 percent – use a default, government-approved “standard offer” for their electricity provider. Those prices only change once a year.

Without pricing flexibility from energy suppliers, there’s no opportunity to offer real-time pricing to consumers......................................

In states where utilities still both generate and distribute power, options are emerging that use wireless technology not imagined in 2010 — smart thermostats. In New York, ConEdison offers customers rebates if they install smart thermostats that let the company bump up the setting on their air conditioners a few degrees, for up to four hours on the hottest summer days. Customers can manually override the change, if they want. They just don’t get the savings.

When or if similar programs come to Maine also will depend on whether they can be designed so that customers feel it’s worth the trouble to change their behaviors or learn new routines, Brooks said.

“No one wants to go through the brain damage to figure out how to save 50 cents,” he said.

Read the full article here:


A word of advice, when you see a new program come along with a name that contains a word like "Smart" or "Community", put up your guard and hang onto your wallet.


Wind is potentially an electric  grid keeper's worst nightmare because the grid keeper must match electrical supply with electrical demand, and erratic wind holds too many surpises. For example, the whole state of Maine could be experiencing strong winds and then rather suddenly, the wind dies down.


When the supply can't be depended upon as it can with a source like natural gas, an alternate way to match up supply and demand is to control the demand. Enter the smart meter.


"A smart grid would allow the integration of variable energy sources like wind and solar. For example, if electricity output dropped suddenly due to a change in wind generation, the grid could dim the lights in big box stores by 20%, a change most people don't perceive, say Don Von Dollen, program manager for the IntelliGrid project at the Electric Power Research Institute".


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Comment by Willem Post on June 24, 2019 at 10:57am

There WERE savings, but they were collected by the utility company and then paid out as increased bonuses and other perks to management.

Solar was also supposed to save us (suckers) money. I am rather clever, but I have not figured how it could.

The "savings" accrued to millionaires who put up the heavily subsidized larger systems, which everyone else holding an empty bag, i.e., getting nailed.

Of course solar in New England will not save us at all with a miserable capacity factor of 0.14

Most of that solar occurs during midday when demand is moderate, i.e., MASSIVE DUCK CURVES.

Solar has a terrible habit of getting high at midday (when demand is low,) and then passing out in late afternoon/early evening (when demand is high), not to reappear for work until late in the next morning, somewhat like a habitual drunk sobering up.


The drunk does not like to work much during rainy, overcast or snowy weather, and his work output jumps up and down with variable cloudiness. And that drunk-like behavior is coddled by government programs and heavily subsidized!!


Such a drunk is much loved by various good-doers and vote-trawling legislators using other people's money. The drunk, an occasional “worker”, enjoys various generous government programs to bribe him to show up at all, such as upfront cash grants, upfront tax credits, low-cost loans, generous, above-market, feed-in tariffs, production tax credits, and loan interest and asset depreciation write-offs to avoid paying income taxes. What more could he ask for?


What kind of worker is that? There is nothing reliable or productive (“on demand”) about him!!

He does not deserve to be coddled.

No wonder he is behaving like a spoiled brat, i.e., disturbing the peace on the grid.

And the parents (the owners), whose children are disturbing the peace on the grid, complain they, after all these years, finally have to pay someone (the utility, GMP in Vermont, which has determined 70 of the utility’s 150 substations will eventually need upgrades to add more solar to avoid “transmission ground fault overvoltage,” or TGFOV) to foolproof the grid against such unruly brats and maintain the peace on the grid. See note.

Those parents would rather have others (ratepayers) do the paying, as usual. How else would they be able to continue claiming "solar is competitive"?


Innocent bystanders (other ratepayers) have to foot the bill to clean up the mess, i.e., put more money in Blittersdorf’s silk-lined pockets, who already is a big time multi-millionaire. Totally insane!!


That is what happens when a bunch of rosy-eyed bureaucrat idiots meddle in the electric power sector.

The same types meddle in the VT health sector and education sector, and we all know how expensive they have become.

When will all this nonsense end?


And SOCIALIST Bernie Sanders, with three houses, and a $70,000 Audie (supporting the GERMAN worker), and flying FOR FREE on private planes spewing CO2, and not liking a proper wall to protect our southern border, and having his own tax-exempt foundation (don't pay me, pay my foundation), and promising more and more goodies to everyone to raise his poll numbers, is campaigning for even more US-style socialism to benefit his foundation, a la Clintons and a la Al Gore, all smooth operating hucksters!!


NOTE: If solar system owners were required to put in batteries to smooth their electricity output, before feeding into distribution or high voltage grids, all these problems would not exist, and there would be no duck curves, because the batteries would absorb any excess electricity during midday, and give it up during peak hours in late afternoon/early evening to help reduce the GMP peak load on the NE grid.

That would be the logical solution.

Solar would become a really useful contributor, like the "on demand" traditional sources (oil, gas, coal, nuclear, hydro), and not just be a subsidy-sucking disturber.

Comment by James M. Talcott on June 24, 2019 at 10:18am

Democrats are great at spending OPM, other people's money. Everyone loved Balducci and still does and he is still loving everyone, from behind! Now we're in for a repeat performance but from her highness.


Maine as Third World Country:

CMP Transmission Rate Skyrockets 19.6% Due to Wind Power


Click here to read how the Maine ratepayer has been sold down the river by the Angus King cabal.

Maine Center For Public Interest Reporting – Three Part Series: A CRITICAL LOOK AT MAINE’S WIND ACT


(excerpts) From Part 1 – On Maine’s Wind Law “Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine if the law’s goals were met." . – Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, August 2010 Part 2 – On Wind and Oil Yet using wind energy doesn’t lower dependence on imported foreign oil. That’s because the majority of imported oil in Maine is used for heating and transportation. And switching our dependence from foreign oil to Maine-produced electricity isn’t likely to happen very soon, says Bartlett. “Right now, people can’t switch to electric cars and heating – if they did, we’d be in trouble.” So was one of the fundamental premises of the task force false, or at least misleading?" Part 3 – On Wind-Required New Transmission Lines Finally, the building of enormous, high-voltage transmission lines that the regional electricity system operator says are required to move substantial amounts of wind power to markets south of Maine was never even discussed by the task force – an omission that Mills said will come to haunt the state.“If you try to put 2,500 or 3,000 megawatts in northern or eastern Maine – oh, my god, try to build the transmission!” said Mills. “It’s not just the towers, it’s the lines – that’s when I begin to think that the goal is a little farfetched.”

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Hannah Pingree on the Maine expedited wind law

Hannah Pingree - Director of Maine's Office of Innovation and the Future

"Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine."

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