June 21st, 2012 – Oakland County, Michigan – Commissioners Support Smart Meter Refusal. Today, on a unanimous consent vote, the 25 member Oakland County, Michigan, Board of Commissioners approved a resolution that supports the right of every utility customer to be able to opt-out of a ‘smart’ electric meter without cost or penalty. The resolution also contains language calling for it to be forwarded to the Governor, the Attorney General, the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC), and the members of the legislature who represent Oakland County. Our heartfelt thanks go to Commissioner James Runestad for proposing and spearheading this fine document, and to Christine Long and her General Government Committee that earlier held a very thorough and well run hearing on this where DTE was given its chance to defend its program and many citizens expressed their passionate support for the resolution to escape the DTE program.
One of the highlights of the “Public Comments” was an emotional talk by Dominic Cusumano, who spoke of the illness experienced by his wife soon after being exposed to a smart meter on their home in Addison Township. He explained how this objectionable device had been installed on their home without their knowledge or consent, how he had demanded its removal, and how unresponsive the utility had been to their predicament. Ultimately he stated that he had to remove the meter himself in self-defense. For that he is being sued by the utility and is currently awaiting a decision from the Oakland County Circuit Court. A video of his brief talk can be seen in the linked news story by Oakland Press.
We understand that, just before the public session of the Commission, there was an apparently desperate (but unsuccessful) last minute effort by DTE representatives to lobby Commissioners not to do this. When the public session began, the Runestad resolution was on the “Consent Agenda” and it quickly became apparent that there was not a single Commissioner asking it to be removed to the “Regular Agenda” where it might have been debated and a roll call vote taken. About 20 citizens had come to this Commission meeting prepared to speak for the resolution during “Public Comments”. When it became apparent the resolution had already passed, most used their time at the microphone to thank the Commission for doing the right thing.
None of the above events would have been possible but for the climate of opinion created in southeastern Michigan. This foundation was developed by the efforts of many individuals. I would love to name them here but am concerned that in remembering some, I might overlook others.
Two who must be singled out were John and Pauline Holeton, whose efforts for this cause were tireless! These two went from city council to city council, many times driving an hour or more each way to go to a meeting where they were only allowed to speak for 3 minutes during “Public Comments”. Often they were able to persuade others to go with them and also speak for 3 minutes.
At first John and Pauline faced an almost impossibly uphill battle, but gradually, little by little, their efforts began to bear fruit. They distributed thousands of DVDs. In time others joined in to help until the effort snowballed into what we saw today.
Before today’s action, twenty-one units of local government had passed resolutions urging caution in the rush to deploy smart meters, calling for investigation of the health and privacy effects, and supporting the right of citizens to ‘opt-out’. As a result of these local government actions the Michigan Public Service Commission opened an investigation in January. A report on that investigation is due out next week.
There are now two bills pending in the state legislature which would give citizens the right to opt-out, proposed by representatives McMillin and Opsommer, who also deserve our heartfelt thanks. While these bills are currently languishing in the House Energy Committee, it is to be hoped that today’s action by Oakland County will help to move them along. The utilities in this state have had too sweet a deal in Lansing for too long. It is surely time to change that!