AUGUSTA — Whether Central Maine Power Co. customers can choose not to have “smart” electric meters installed at their homes and businesses is up to the Public Utilities Commission, state lawmakers have decided.

The Legislature’s Energy Committee agreed today that state utility regulators are in the best position to figure out the merits, costs and impacts of letting some people opt out of CMP’s controversial smart meter project.

The committee’s members came to this conclusion by effectively killing a bill that would have imposed a one-year ban on smart-meter installation. They also tabled action on another bill to let customers opt out by requesting an alternative to the wireless devices, such as a hard-wired meter. The votes on each measure were unanimous, 9-0.

In declining to decide the merits of the opt-out bill, the committee followed established protocol of not preempting an issue that’s already getting a formal review at the PUC. At least seven citizen complaint cases have been filed at the commission, with most now consolidated into a single case centered on the opt-out idea.

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