It was recently reported by our sister publication, The Herald-Gazette of Rockland, that Central Maine Power has decided to halt installation of its “smart readers” in Camden in response to an outcry from members of the public concerned about the situation.

Perhaps the company should consider extending the same courtesy to all of its customers.

Courtesy is exactly what has been lacking in this changeover from traditional electric meters that require reading by CMP employees to new digital wireless devices that provide the company with that same data.

Many residents in the Midcoast have come home from work to find a brief, vague note on their door saying a smart reader has been installed. Although customers have been provided the option of paying extra on their bill to opt out of the program, CMP didn’t bother waiting for each customer to give their consent before making changes at their homes.

In addition, the company didn’t offer any real information in its note about how the meters work, the concerns some have about the effect the meters may have on health, or the fact that this is yet another instance whereby new technology may be putting some of our friends and neighbors on unemployment. Those who have been paid by CMP to read the traditional meters will lose their jobs due to this program.

In many cases, a business would not operate this way because it would lose customers. Fortunately for CMP, it has a monopoly over its customer base. It’s not like those who feel they have been treated unfairly can go across the street to a competing power company, unless they want to leave the grid entirely.

Camden residents who spoke out against this are not the only ones who have taken action on the matter. In Monroe, a citizen petition has prompted a special town meeting where residents will vote on a proposed six-month moratorium on the installation of smart meters.

Although Monroe’s selectboard reports in a letter to the editor this week that 92 percent of CMP’s customers in Monroe have already had a smart meter installed, they also note that 44 households have opted out in town. The latter is not an insignificant number. Monroe town correspondent Martha Goodale also reports that 87 people signed the petition calling for the vote on the proposed moratorium.

The special town meeting to vote on the proposed moratorium in Monroe will be held Wednesday, Aug. 24 at 7 p.m. An informational meeting will be held Tuesday, Aug. 16 at 7 p.m. at the Town Office. The selectboard members and Goodale all encouraged all residents to attend these meetings.

“It is your town, your tax dollars and your choice,” the selectboard wrote, in its letter.

And while Monroe and Camden are but two communities among many in Maine, CMP should not consider the comparative silence in other communities as tacit approval of the company’s practice. It is clear that many, who had not had an opportunity to be heard, are also disappointed in this plan.

The issue has gained national attention. The Associated Press is reporting that 19 ratepayers have filed a complaint with the Public Utilities Commission about the smart reader program.

We agree with the ratepayers’ argument that opting out of this program should not mean an additional cost to customers. Citizens should not have to weigh the possible problem with their their family’s health against the burden of another bill in a tough economy. That’s just bullying the people who pay for this service.

We urge customers to stand up and be heard on this issue.