Maine Supreme Judicial Court Affirms MPUC's Finding that Smart Meters Pose No Credible Health or Safety Threat
The Maine Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the Maine Public Utilities Commission’s decision that Central Maine Power Company’s advanced metering infrastructure (“AMI”) system (aka “smart meters”) pose no credible threat to the health and safety of Central Maine Power Company (“CMP”) customers. Friedman v. PUC, 2016 ME 19, — A.3d —. In a lengthy legal battle spanning more than five years, Ed Friedman and other CMP customers, challenged the use of smart meters on health and safety grounds.
Earlier in the proceedings, the Commission had decided that granting CMP customers the right to opt out of the use of smart meters resolved the smart meter complaint. However, in doing so, the Commission had declined to make findings associated with the health and safety of smart meters. That decision was appealed. On appeal, the Court decided that the Commission was required to address the health and safety issues. Consequently, the Court remanded the case to the Commission for further proceedings.
On remand, following a two and a half year investigation, and the careful consideration of voluminous evidence, the Commission found that CMP’s smart meters did not pose a credible health and safety threat. Friedman et al. once again appealed the Commission’s decision. Friedman raised three principle arguments in the most recent appeal: (1) the Commission applied an incorrect standard and burden of proof; (2) the Commission’s health and safety determination was not supported by substantial evidence; and (3) the two Commissioners that decided the health and safety issue had different rationales, so they did not actually concur in the decision.
The Court found that the Commission had applied the correct standard, but the Court did not reach the issue related to the burden of proof because the Court also found that substantial evidence did support the Commission’s decision. Further, the Court found that the two Commissioners concurred in the ultimate decision even though they provided somewhat different rationales.
Regarding the evidence that supported the Commission’s decision that CMP’s smart meters do not pose a credible health and safety threat, the Court noted that the “record is replete with evidence supporting the Commission’s eighty-two page order finding that smart meters do not pose a credible threat to the health and safety of CMP’s customers under reasonable operation scenarios.” The Commission’s finding was supported by many peer-reviewed scientific studies, testimony from international renowned experts, field testing and regulations in the United States and beyond, related to radiofrequency signal exposure.