State Agency Launches Smart Meter Investigation
The Michigan Public Service Commission will ask DTE about safety, privacy and whether customers can opt out of the new smart meter program.
Spurred by resolutions approved by local governments, the Michigan Public Service Commission on Thursday launched an investigation into the deployment of smart meters by DTE Energy and other regulated electric utilities in the state.
DTE is installing 600,000 smart meters in southeast Michigan as part of an $83.8 million grant. While officials in Farmington and Farmington Hills are not among those that have passed resolutions, some local residents have raised concerns about the new technology.
David and Laura Judge of Farmington posted signs on their meters stating they did not want the new meters installed at their home and business. In addition to health concerns, they said the meters have been linked to problems with cochlear implants and hearing aids, which several family members have.
Smart meters measure and record electricity usage with digital technology instead of the traditional gears and dials. The technology involves the use of radio frequency waves to transmit data to DTE.
According to a news release, Thursday's order directs all regulated electric utilities to submit information to the commission by March 16 on the following topics:
- The electric utility's existing plans for the deployment of smart meters;
- The estimated cost of deploying smart meters and any sources of funding;
- An estimate of the savings to be achieved by the deployment of smart meters;
- An explanation of any other non-monetary benefits that might be realized from the deployment of smart meters;
- Any scientific information known to the electric utility that bears on the safety of the smart meters;
- An explanation of the type of information that will be gathered by the electric utility through the use of smart meters;
- An explanation of the steps that the electric utility intends to take to safeguard the privacy of the customer information;
- Whether the electric utility intends to allow customers to opt out of having a smart meter; and
- How the electric utility intends to recover the cost of an opt-out program, if one will exist.
A DTE representative said the company will cooperate with the commission's orders.
"We firmly believe that the new meters are perfectly safe, and safe in terms of health and safety, and in terms of customer information," DTE spokesman John Austerberry told The Detroit News.
"We also believe they provide significant benefits to the customer, but we will cooperate fully with the MPSC in their review."
The MPSC is an agency within the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. The commission's order directs staff members to prepare a report on the findings by June 29.
How to voice your opinion
The commission will accept comments about the information being submitted by the utility companies. Here's how to voice yours:
- Written comments should be sent to: Executive Secretary, Michigan Public Service Commission, P.O. Box 30221, Lansing, Michigan 48909.
- Email comments may be sent to: email@example.com.
- If you require assistance filing comments, contact commission staff at 517-241-6180.
- All comments should reference "Case No. U-17000."
- You have until 5 p.m. April 16 to file comments.
- Comments and other documents received by the commission will become public information posted on the commission's website.