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Smart Meter Opt Out Legislation Would Eliminate DTE's Proposed Fees

DTE Energy offers customers an opportunity to decline the new wireless meters, but plans to charge one-time and monthly fees.

A Michigan lawmaker has introduced legislation to stop a proposed DTE Energy plan to charge customers who don't want new wireless "smart meters". 

The Oakland Press reported Thursday that state Rep. Tom McMillin (R-Rochester Hills) has introduced legislation that would allow DTE customers to opt out of the new meters without paying a proposed $87 one-time fee and $15 monthly fee. 

“I have spoken with residents of our communities who say they have had serious health issues caused by smart meters, and I believe these apprehensions are legitimate," McMillin told the newspaper, adding he believes the meters also raise "privacy concerns."

DTE is installing 825,000 smart meters, also known as AMI meters, in southeast Michigan as part of an $83.8 million grant. 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.

In response to complaints from residents across the state, the Michigan Public Service Commission asked the utility to provide them with information on safety and privacy issues related to the smart meters; the MPSC also asked about the feasibility of an opt-out option.

AnnArbor.com reported Monday that Attorney General Bill Schuette filed a brief with the Michigan Public Service Commission that affirms the right of citizens to opt out and disputes DTE's fee calculations. In his brief, posted on the MPSC website, Schuette argues the one-time fee should be eliminated and the monthly fee reduced to under $10. 

Concerns reported

Residents quoted in a WXYZ-TV report on the proposed legislation said they experienced insomnia, tinnitus and other symptoms they believe are related to the smart meter installations.

Farmington residents David and Laura Judge asked DTE about opting out when the meter installation began locally. In addition to potential impacts on health, they were also concerned about the meter's effect on hearing aids and cochlear implants, because of family members are hearing impaired. 

In December, an Oakland County judge ruled, in part, against Ralph and Donna Stenman of Farmington Hills, who landed in court after removing a new DTE smart meter from their home. In an affidavit, Donna Stenman said that the meter caused "nausea, severe headaches and insomnia" after it was installed on Sept. 1, 2011.

MomofThreeBoys March 01, 2013 at 04:35 PM
thanks for the heads up. the more i see about these meters, the less there is to like.
Hugh McDiarmid, Jr. March 01, 2013 at 04:50 PM
If people fear new technology let them opt out. But don't make the rest of us subsidize them! The health concerns seem entirely anecdotal, and numerous studies have failed to identify risks. (Though a lack of credible data has never deterred Rep. McMillin from spreading misinformation). The studies show that radiation and other emissions from cell phones microwaves, etc. are far higher than anything coming out of your meters. If there are health issues, they should be confirmed. Rumors and fears (fomented by the anti-government black helicopter crowd) are not a basis for public policy. Smart meters reduce utility costs (and thus help keep rates in check) and reduce energy use in homes and businesses. Rep. McMillin is therefore asking us to help pay the bills for those who refuse to accept modern labor-saving, cost-saving and energy-saving technologies based on unsubstantiated claims and fears.
Mollie Harms March 01, 2013 at 05:24 PM
I 100% agree Hugh - their fears are completely groundless. The wording in this article alone gives them little credibility, never mind the sheer lack of evidence or information supporting the health concerns. Consumers should consider the lack of upgrade a "service" with expenses they are expected to cover.
Miriam Breslauer March 01, 2013 at 06:06 PM
I don't understand the monthly fee. Part of the point of the Smart meters is that they can transmit the necessary information to DTE, so that the company doesn't have to pay someone to go out and read meters.
Thomas Donovan March 01, 2013 at 06:28 PM
I think the monthly fee would be charged to those people who opt out, kinda like how some companies charge you if you prefer getting a bill in the mail versus online.
art March 01, 2013 at 07:36 PM
Gee, Mr. McDiarmid Jr, Though a lack of credible data has never deterred Rep. McMillin from spreading misinformation Once could very well say the same for your reply. Never let facts get in the way of your politcs, right? How about letting those who believe or are certain that there is a connection between their hearing and the meter opt out until final proof of this problem can be substantiated. Then they can opt out and pay a charge or opt back in. It would seem YOU are the one perpetuating the boogie man and govt black helicopters.
Joni Hubred-Golden (Editor) March 01, 2013 at 08:31 PM
Thomas is correct - the monthly fee is for the anticipated additional cost of sending out a meter reader.
Jim Sparks March 02, 2013 at 12:20 AM
Anyone should have the ability to opt-out. But, Mr. McDiarmid makes an excellent point. If someone - for whatever reason - gets the heebiejeebies because this little meter is sending out radio waves (I can't imagine how they get around in the world...the atmosphere is loaded with them. Tin-foil hats, maybe?), then charging them for an actual human to come out and read their old-timey meter is perfectly reasonable. You get more bombarded with radio waves at your local Starbucks. Geez.
Lynne Gagner March 02, 2013 at 09:27 PM
We have a smart reader. I don't know what all the fuss is about. What privacy issues could someone have to be worried about? I don't understand.
Hugh McDiarmid, Jr. March 02, 2013 at 11:49 PM
Art...I'm in complete agreement with you. People should be able to opt out, as long as they pay the costs of using the old technology. Rep. McMillin's legislation would prohibit their being charged those costs. (IE, the rest of us would absorb it.) Although I don't see where politics entered into my previous comment?

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