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.
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.