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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.

State Rep. Pat Somerville (R-New Boston) said he can see both sides of the argument on Thursday.

Somerville said the new meters streamline DTE's process and business, though many people are worried about personal privacy.

"I can see their point because they (DTE) can tell when you're home; when you're not home; what appliances you're using and when," Somerville said.

Some Trenton residents have complained about potential health issues surrounding smart meters. Somerville is skeptical.

"We use cell phones on a regular basis and those use the same basic technology," Somerville said.

A major concern for Somerville is that many of the people in his district, including those Trenton and Grosse Ile, don't have a choice when it comes to gas and electric providers.

"Per state law, due to state mandates they don't have a choice for other providers," Somerville said. "That's what makes this particular instance unique."

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. 

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Ron March 04, 2013 at 04:34 PM
If DTE is receiving a grant for $83.8 million why should consumers have to pay any fee? The installation of these new smart meters alone with save them millions in employee costs. So this ultimately means that many DTE employees will lose their jobs. Can you just imagine the amount of money that DTE would generate by charging 10 dollars or less per month for every household for the installation of these new meters? How will this improve services to me as a consumer? Does it means that my services will be restored with minutes in the event of a power outage? I think not. So I'm not interested in your new smart meter. If you intend on charging me a single dollar per month you can keep it. This is just another skiing for DTE to generate millions of dollars on the backs of consumers.

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