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|Friday, February 17, 2012
DTE To Propose Opt-Out Provision For Customers Opposed To Smart Meters
|DETROIT - In a filing to be made next month with the Public Service Commission related to an investigation into the use of smart meters, DTE will propose an opt-out provision for customers. DTE spokesperson Len Singer said the utility recognizes this is an "extremely emotional issue" for some.
"But we don't think there are any concerns and are still committed to installing them," Singer said. "They are safe, secure and provide a lot of benefits to customers."
Consumers Energy has not deployed any of its smart meters, but a spokesperson said the Jackson-based utility will also include an opt-out proposal in its upcoming filing with the PSC.
Smart meters allow customers to see how much energy they are using on a real-time basis. They can offer utility customers numerous ways to reduce their bills, and reducing the number of estimated meter reads. Smart meters would also be able to alert utilities themselves of a power outage without the homeowner contacting the utility.
But across the country as smart meters have been installed, concerns have been raised about cyber-security, privacy and whether they could cause certain health problems.
On Thursday, Rep. Tom McMillin (R-Rochester Hills) introduced HB 5411 , which would put several restrictions on the utilities' deployment of smart meters.
It would instruct the PSC to require the utility to let customers opt-out of having a smart meter installed on their home and, if one has been put on, the utility would be required to take it off if the customer requests it.
It would also prohibit an electric utility from giving the data collected from the meter to anyone other than the utility and prohibit the utility from obtaining data from the smart meter more than once per month unless the customer requests it.
The bill was referred to the House Energy and Technology Committee, where Rep. Kenneth Horn (R-Frankenmuth), committee chair, said he plans to take it up in the next few months.
He said he doesn't believe the privacy issues have much merit and there is still some discussion to be had over health concerns. He said one of his main objectives for the hearing is to provide fellow lawmakers with good information about the issues so they can better inform constituents who call their offices to express concern over smart meters.
He said he understands the concerns people have about privacy, but wants people to know more about how the smart meters work so they understand that much of what they fear is not based in fact.
But there are a number of people who remain unconvinced, enough so that the PSC opened a case file on the issue last month, and since then nearly 60 residents from across the state have filed objections to the use of smart meters.
Noted in the file are also two resolutions from Royal Oak Township and the Grosse Pointe Shores that requested the MPSC to move cautiously on the issue and consider delaying the deployment.
McMillin also shared a letter from the American Academy of Environmental Medicine that warned of the health risks and has called for an immediate moratorium on further installation of smart meters.
The utilities have until March 16 to respond to a series of inquiries to the PSC about their smart meter plans. (Case No. U-17000)
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Author: Staff Writer
Gongwer News Service