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Are "Smart" Utility Meters to Blame for Customers' Wi-Fi SNAFUs?

Illustration for article titled Are Smart Utility Meters to Blame for Customers Wi-Fi SNAFUs?

The widespread installation of "Smart Meters" here in California has many people up in arms citing potential health and privacy issues. But in Maine, customers are concerned that these meters might also be affecting their home electronics.

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The Office of the Public Advocate—an advocacy group for Maine's utility customers—has reported that some customers have reported radio frequency interference with their electrical appliances, blaming the meters' use of the 2.4GHz spectrum.

According the OPA, some 250 Central Maine Power customers (of the 425,000 with Smart Meters installed) have complained to the advocacy group. The most common issue is interference with wireless routers but also include "malfunctioning phones, 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," said the OPA in a statement. The complaints began just after the CMP began installing meters last fall.

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Central Maine Power confirmed the issue and has included basic directions for resolving it in its Smart Meter FAQ, which involve either moving the impacted device or switching its channel settings to avoid overlapping with the meter. Customers can also contact CMP directly where representatives can help correct the problems over the phone. [Maine.gov via CNet - Top image: Ap]


You can keep up with Andrew Tarantola, the author of this post, on Twitter or Google+.

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DISCUSSION

Some people may hate the smart meters, but I like them. Before, at least twice a year, we'd get a bill where it would say, "Estimated electricity usage" for the month's usage.

When I called up the company, they said, "Well, we couldn't get to your meter. Your dog kept us from seeing what it was, so we just estimated it based upon previous usage for that month from previous years."

Never mind the fact that the dog was behind a gate and the meter was in front of it; the meter reader was just lazy - and it always seemed to happen during the summer, when the guy didn't want to get out of his car to read the meter. Funny how that works.

Haven't seen a bill like that since the meters were installed; I'm MUCH happier that my electricity bill has dropped $20/mo since it was installed.

And, no probs with wi-fi...The meter's at the front of the house; the router's at the back, never had them interfering with each other.