WILTON — Selectmen voted this week to draft an ordinance to regulate the installation of wireless smart meters in town, making them the second Maine community to seek local control over the Central Maine Power Co. project.

Town officials plan to look to the Bath City Council for guidance, since that council has passed the only ordinance that changes the statewide opt-out plan for residents who want to keep their old meters, according to Selectman Tom Saviello.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Saviello made the motion to prepare an ordinance to be reviewed by selectmen, who will then decide whether to schedule a public hearing and vote on the matter.

He expects the draft will be reviewed at the next regular Board of Selectmen meeting, which will likely be Tuesday, Oct. 18.

If passed, the ordinance could put a temporary ban on installations in the town, as well as seek an amendment requiring the power company to get permission from residents to do the switch, Saviello said.

Bath passed a similar ordinance this summer that went against the Public Utilities Commission decision that allows people to opt-out of the program but requires them to pay for alternative options.

Among the state regulator-approved options, customers who want to keep old meters have to pay $40 up front and $12 a month to cover the cost of maintaining the systems.

“Bath did a moratorium that said we’re going to still evaluate this stuff and you have to get permission from the homeowner,” Saviello said Friday.

His biggest concern is that some town residents have raised questions about health effects from the radio frequency network that allows power companies to monitor power consumption remotely and at intervals. Installation of the meters has already begun in town.

Saviello, who is also a Republican state senator for Wilton, consulted state health officials who didn’t support some of the concerns that residents raised at past meetings, he said.

“I wanted the moratorium because I want people to be able to ask (the experts) the questions themselves,” he said.

Some 100 smart meters have already been installed in Wilton, with the town of about 4,100 residents scheduled to get a total of 2,300 smart meters, according to John Carroll, spokesman for the power company.

Installations will continue in town because details about the ordinance have not been decided, and the issue must still be voted on by residents, he said Friday.

“We don’t know what way the ordinance is going to go,” he said.

The power company plans to install 620,000 smart meters statewide, at a cost of about $192 million, Carroll said.

In other related action, an antenna that is part of the smart meter system in Wilton was taken down Thursday. Residents who live near the privately owned wind tower on Walker Hill Road complained to selectmen that the company didn’t follow town permit rules before installing the antenna on the tower.

There had been an application submitted to the Planning Board for a permit to keep the antennae on the wind tower, but CMP withdrew the request Thursday before the hearing, according to Carroll.

“Rather than continue to cause an irritation to the residents, we decided to take it down,” he said.

The antennae will be moved to a CMP utility pole, which is typically where the systems are installed statewide, he said.

David Robinson — 961-9287

[email protected]


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