Ask most people about smart meters, and if they can tell you anything at all, they will remember that a vocal group of utility customers armed with a little inconclusive science believes that they’re dangerous.

Those issues are being investigated by the Public Utilities Commission, which has been ordered by a court to reconsider having an opt-out fee for electricity customers who insist on getting their old mechanical meters read by a live human being instead of a smart meter, which sends hourly reports by radio signal.

Most people will not opt out, however, regardless of whether there is a cost, and they soon will benefit from a level of service that is already enjoyed in other markets.

The smart meter not only gives more information to the electric company, it also gives more information to the consumer, letting families monitor and control their electricity use.

Some Central Maine Power users already can log on to a website that shows them how much electricity they use and when they use it.

This information could lead to conservation by those who want to lower their monthly bills, and, combined with variable rates for different times of day, could provide incentives for people to do laundry or run their dishwasher at night, when power would be cheaper.

The smart meters were financed by a U.S. Department of Energy grant that was part of massive public investment in modernizing our electric grid to use power more efficiently.

Some may want to opt out of that, but include us among the many Mainers who will welcome this opportunity to be thrifty.

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