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.
DTE offered that option in March 2012—but not without requiring those who opt out to pay hefty fees.
Dearborn Patch readers joined many other Michigan residents in opposing the fees.
"So we had a program that was always free to us, and now they want to make themselves more profitable, and even if they get more profitability out of 95% of their customers, they want to charge the people that want the service they have always had for free," commented reader R.EALLY.
Reader Kathy Senczyszyn commented, however, that DTE "will have to pay one to come read the one meter that doesn't change."
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.
Health issues believed to be related to Smart Meters have been reported in communities across Michigan.
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.
The issue has also come before numerous city officials, including Dearborn City Council in July 2011, when a group opposing the meters spoke at a council meeting. The council chose not to file a resolution on the matter.