Publicly Posted Complaints to MPSC About Higher Bills

The experience in California, where these meters have been in place for up to three years is that many people are seeing sharply increased monthly electric bills since they had a smart meter put on their home.

In Michigan these meters have been in place only a few months, yet we are starting to hear similar stories.  Here are a few that were submitted by folks to the public website of the Michigan Public Service Commission:

March 12th, 2012 – Latest Stories:

From: MARNIESLOVELIVES@aol.com
Sent: Friday, March 09, 2012 3:56 PM
To: MPSCEDOCKETS

Subject:  DTE never told me via letter, door hanger, phone call or rep they were going to install these things. They put two meters on my house. One for the elect and the other for the ac that hasn’t worked in five years.

My DTE bill is on a payment plan and is paid via auto pay on my checking so I paid little attention when the bill came but in the month of October two bills came in so I opened them.

Suprise!! DTE was billing me over $600 . Upon calling them I was told they hadn’t billed for three months so they were catching up. How could this happend I asked and they said: We installed new meters in May but it didn’t start billing until October.

I still didn’t know it was a smart meter because I had never heard a thing about smart meters from dte or anywhere else. Upon checking my bills and verifing the no charge

I was fine with paying the bill and starting a new.

However, they now they had my attention and so when a bill arrived in December (not November) I opened it and found a invoice for $376 and some change for what stated Nov 20 /DEC 20 billing.

Our home is 1400 square feet. Fully winterized, Ac doesnt work thus never used plus we close off the two bedrooms during the winter and use a oil space heater. We don’t use the electric light often but instead burn candles and as for the furnace, the oil burner heats things up nicely so that didn’t cause this increase. My husband and I are retired, children grown living in another state. We don’t do Christmas lights or Christmas tree’s so guess you could say we’re bah hum bug people but it keeps the bills down or at least it used to.

But not now! Now, our bill more then doubled what is was during that same month a year before they installed that smart meter.

I called them to dispute the amount explaining my bill is never that much. The gal said in 2007 your bill was. I nearly laughed. I can’t remember what, when, where, who or how that far back but knew darn well my bill was not correct. After speaking to at least three representatives I was told they would investigate the bill and the meter.

Well anyway, I still didn’t know it was a smart meter. I never looked. My husband and I just thought it was a new analog meter. Nothing to see.

I awaited the investigationg sure they would find the error and after about a week a letter arrived from dte  The letter had one word that stood out because one word was in BOLD all cap letters: It read something like this.

The meter was tested and investigated on xxxx date and found to be CORRECT. Then to add insult to injury it said the entire amount was due upon receipt of this letter. I called them again regarding my fixed payment plan and was told that because I disputed the bill I was taken off the plan but they would be so kind as to wave the ten dollar inspection fee I was never told about and I could start a new plan. I asked why I wasn’t told I’d be removed from the plan if I dispute the bill, the gal said employees come and go. Maybe you talked to a new employee that didn’t know. However you can get on a new plan. This one is 50% more then the original but at these rates what else can be done.

So now our payment plan is 50% more a month and our invoiced amount due dte is more then double what it was with the analog meter. I told the dte rep that I would go outside and read the meter myself. This is when I learned it was a smart meter. She said, we can read it. I said noooo, I’ll go get the numbers and read it to you. She said its a smart meter. They don’t have numbers like the old ones. I told her I wanted this thing removed and she promptly stated. You have no choice! Its mandated.

On the health related side:
Our six pound Chihuahua went blind and deaf suddenly a couple of months after their new meter was installed and the vet doesn’t know why. I have been having difficulty sleeping, head aches and blurred vision in one eye. Why? My doctor doesn’t seem to know either.

I’m really ticked that dte placed this so called smart meter on my house doubling my bills and I think killing my little dog and its owners. I want these things off my home.

Denise
Franklin, MI

 From: tbmersino@charter.net
Sent: Thursday, March 08, 2012 12:12 PM
To: MPSCEDOCKETS
Subject: U-17000

MPSC Chairperson John D. Quack
Chairman Greg White
Chairman OR MN South

I am writing to put our support behind the bill introduced to allow electric customers to opt‐out of the Smart Meter programs in their area.

I, unfortunately, had one installed on my home on 2‐17‐11 and have had escalating billing problems ever since. Our usage has been minimal for many years since we heat primarily with wood and use it to dry our laundry, virtually eliminating two high usage appliances. Each month after the meter was installed our usage would creep up slowly so as not to be noticed much but come September it went out of control. Each bill was another $15‐20 higher until I had enough in January when it reached $259!!!! My bill read that I had used 23% more energy than the previous year which made no sense since it was a milder winter which meant my furnace hardly ran and we had been extra careful with usage with our bills rising continuously. I called DT E customer service and was told that since Smart Meters are “highly accurate” that meter readings aren’t’ disputable anymore and I was offered energy saving tips! I hung up in frustration only to pick up the phone again in February when my bill was again over $200! I knew for sure this was totally inaccurate because of the weather conditions being much milder than the previous year, no working furnace, etc. and I was told I used 42% more than last year??? Come on!! Upon calling customer service again I was fed the same line again about how reliable the meters were and would I like some home winterization tips…be serious now…is noone going to give my complaints any attention?? I yelled at the customer service employee that I was calling the MPSC and hung up yet again. Upon calling the MPSC I finally found someone that would listen to my concerns and help me find a solution.

I had DTE calling me within a few days to schedule a “meter test”, which still hasn’t been done. I sincerely don’t expect them to find anything wrong with the meter since then they would have to admit that their “great technology” was flawed. I want this meter off my home and my old style meter back. I do not want to go on the DTE web site and find out how much energy each of my appliances are using, this is an invasion of privacy. My accounting of energy usage isn’t accurate anyway since most of my usage is labeled as “other” and it isn’t any of their, or anyone else’s, business what I do in the privacy of my own home. I also have a household member that has a pacemaker and I am concerned about what effects this meter could have on that device. I hope you take my comments into consideration, along with the many others, when you make your decision. We have a right to say what is put on our own homes, we own them and DTE does not.

Thank you for your time,

Tom and Beth Mersino
Oxford, MI

Submitted for public record on 3‐8‐12

From: John Paul [mailto:jpsp18658@att.net]
Sent: Sunday, March 04, 2012 2:35 PM
To: MPSCEDOCKETS
Subject: comment U17000 from JOHN PAUL

I am opposed to the smart meters for 2 reasons ECONOMIC and SAFETY. On the economuic side dte/michcon has eliminated its electric side meter readers in the michcon area and the michcon employees were reading both meters at the same pay with no reduction in cost to the reate payers. now the meter readers at michcon are currently being reassigned or leave because the company has decided to use outside contractors with employees from other areas.Dte has been charging its customers a fee for reading meters when its done electronically. The cost of the eqiuipment is depreciated and used to reduce there profits then the company charges a fee for something they nolonger do. On the safety side noone monitors the condition of my gas meter ,corrosion leaking coming loose from the manafold ect this was all accomplished by the meter reader which is about to be fphased out . the one thing we need most in this state is JOBS until michcon starts enforcing all the gas safety regulations they should not be allowed any more financial gain and should roll back service fees to its customers my gas and eclectric bill come on the same bill and its read electronically there is a 6.00 dollar charge on the electric bill and a 10.50 charge on the gas bill for reading the meter with over a million customers in the detroit area what are they doing wiyth the 16,500,000.00 each month.

February 18th, 2012 – More Stories:

From: phoebe white [mailto:pmarlowewhite@hotmail.com]
Sent: Wednesday, February 15, 2012 10:44 PM
To: MPSCEDOCKETS
Subject: Regarding reference Case No. U-17000; the Smart Meters being installed by DTE
To Whom It May Concern;
Re: Regarding reference Case No. U-17000; the Smart Meters being installed by DTE
I was concerned about the ability to read the numbers of the smart meter to see exactly how much eletricity was used.
DTE installed one at my mother’s house, but I have been unable to read any numbers to see if the reading DTE gets is accurate. Previously, I was able to communicate this to DTE if there was a question about the bill. However, since this “Smart Meter” was installed, it flashes various numbers and even DTE employees who were in the area can’t make heads or tails of it. Therefore, we have to rely on the honesty of DTE as there is no way to double check.I can see in the future how this would save money in the long run by now having to pay DTE workers from coming out and getting the reading. Hopefully, this cost saving in the future would be reflected in our bill. My other concern with both DTE and Consumers is the costs going up and up and up.
Concerned consumer

From: sasha popovic [mailto:sashaatwork@yahoo.com]
Sent: Thursday, February 09, 2012 10:29 PM
To: MPSCEDOCKETS
Case No. U-17000
Sasha Popovic
C/o Sagano Motel, 44784 Woodward Ave, Pontiac, MI 48341
(248) 334-2592   (586) 731-3366

(In this story, from Sasha Popovic, a motel operator,  there is an extended correspondence, back and forth, between herself and DTE representatives, concerning her electric bills since meter was installed.  DTE points out that her bills for two months were lower than the same two months a year earlier.  Her complaint, apparently, is not that the electric bills were higher than the same months a year earlier, but rather that they were sharply increased from the month before the new meter was installed and should have been a lot lower because of the mild winter.  Also at the end of this correspondence there is quite a list of web links to various news stories touching on the sharp cost increases people are seeing everywhere these meters have been installed.)
Click here to continue reading this story.

From: Dianne [mailto:dmbroner@aol.com]
Sent: Monday, February 06, 2012 10:02 AM
To: MPSCEDOCKETS
Subject: Smart Meters
Dear Sirs,
I am writing in regards to the public comment on smart meters. In June of ’08 the price advantage was abolished which I feel was unjust. Electric companies enticed home owners to go all electric and as a result they would have a price advantage.
I have done everything I can to save electricity. We have a closed loop Geo
Thermo “Heat Pump”. It consists of an inline pump, compressor, fan, and a
steam humidifier that works with the fan.
With a heat pump if I was to dial down to 59o it would take 24 hours to bring the heat back to a stable temperature of 70 o. A heat pump produces warm heat and runs more often (ask a furnace installer about heat pumps). In mid winter between the heat and the humidifier it seems to be going almost nonstop.
I can not dial down and with a smart meter I will be charged for not being able to control our power use. The Public Service Commission and Consumers Power should warn customers to the cost penalties of going all electric.I purpose charging the standard rate October through April for home owners. People will not be using air conditioning during those months. I feel a fair trade to those with all electric homes.
Dan Lasser
Twin Lake, MI

The Earlier Stories:

From: LaborThatWorks@aol.com [mailto:LaborThatWorks@aol.com]
Sent: Thursday, February 02, 2012 8:15 PM
To: MPSCEDOCKETS
Subject: Case No. U-17000.
My husband and I live in the Southfield area. Franklin to be exact. We are on a fixed income with very little extra left for much of anything. We were on the budget plan with DTE and our bills were ranging in the winter approx $160 to $175 and summer ( no ac ) $89 to $150. However, DTE installed a smart meter when we weren’t home they said sometime in May of last year. In Oct we received a $620 bill and DTE said it was that high because the meter didn’t charge us enough or at all for a while. Then we received our Nov Dec bill for $324 which is more then double our normal usage. DTE said it was correct. I insisted it was not so they said they could send someone out to test the meter. A man came out and after testing said the meter was running fine. DTE took us off the budget plan because we disputed the bill and said the amount due was and is correct. I told them it can’t be. There is only the two of us living in our 1400 square foot home and we are older with heath issues so there aren’t parties and that nothing has changed from last year to this that would cause the bill to more then double. They do not care. NOW I’m learning that there are health issues on top of the double the rate. Please please stop these meters from being  installed and tell DTE to take this thing off my home.I’ve heard that the gas co. is now thinking of getting on the greed boat with smart meters too now. We just can’t afford it nor do we need the health concerns. HELP!!!

Denise & Adam Herzberg
32902 W. Haverford dr
Franklin, MI 48025

From: doug krepsky [mailto:dfresh524@yahoo.com]
Sent: Thursday, February 02, 2012 6:00 PM
To: MPSCEDOCKETS
Subject: smartmeters
ever since my smartmeter install my bill has soared!!khw to khw comparisons to oldrr bills show big increases..never usually had bill over 100..since meter almost everyone!!getting crushed!

From: Dr. Ronda and Scott Sousley
Sent: January 23rd, 2012
To: MPSCDOCKETS
Subject:  Case No. U-17000
Dear Executive Secretary, MPSC
We are residents of Rochester Hills Michigan and are very upset with the recent installation of the DTE smart meters on our resident.  I have written DTE President, Peter Cianci asking for the removal of this monitoring and surveillance activity device.  I did not give anyone permission to attach anything to my home.  Since this installation of the ‘Smart Meter’ we have seen a dramatic increase (28%) in the monthly cost of our electricity after we cut our usage by 20%.

I am enclosing a copy of the letter mentioned above for your review. We have not heard back from DTE on this matter and all our phone calls have resulted in hours spent on the phone being “transferred” around by DTE Customer Service Personnel.

From: John Bausano [mailto:jbausano1@att.net]
Sent: Tuesday, January 17, 2012 6:26 AM
To: MPSCEDOCKETS
Subject: Case No. U-17000 – DTE Smart / Wireless meters
I sent this to DTE via mail on 14th Jan and email on 17th Jan; I have a huge concern about my meter and since I have been asking around, finding out that I’m not the only one having this issue. DTE explanation of these new meter are more accurate don’t seem to add up and I’m not sure if DTE customers can wait until March / April time frame for this commission to investigate their findings.

January 17, 2012
DTE Energy
One Energy Plaza
Detroit, MI. 48226-1221
To Whom It May Concern:
I writing you because of the dispute I have with my past two electrical bills, of which I believe is due to the new meter that was recently added to my home.

Back in October, I received a noticed that DTE will be replacing these new meters around our neighbor hood. My understanding is that these are wireless therefore no need for meter to be read by DTE personnel

In November DTE did replace my meter, and then came December with the new bill; to my astonishment my bill went up on average by 150%. Now knowing that November and December of 2011 we had a mid fall and winter, and my gas bill can attest to this. Therefore my electric bill should have reflected this as well since the furnace fan wasn’t going as often.So I call, and DTE representative stated that these new meter are more accurate, and could not provide further details. This didn’t easy my frustration about the increase, but either case I was going to give it another month. So my December bill came in last Monday the Jan 9th 2012, and this one was even worst. It went up an average of 180% comparing it to 2009 and 2010 averages.

So I’m requesting DTE to provide me with details on these new meters
1) What exactly do they do
2) How much testing was done, in terms of accuracy
3) Where there faults found in testing
4) Do you have static’s showing and explaining the possible increase
5) What is the average increase that is being seeing due to these new meter across your network
6) What rights do I have to dispute my past two bills

I have added a simple copy of my figures; of which show dollar amounts and KWH for the past three years (only for Dec and Jan billing statements)
Since I am an engineer myself I understand changes and improvement to a company, but usually these are in small steps. Meaning I guess I could understand if my changes reflected a 1 to 3 KWH increase. But you will see when there is a 130% increase (or 11 point KWH difference) then I have some concerns about the accuracy of DTE’s new meters.
I would like to believe we can work together and resolved this; maybe by changing out to another meter and see what differences we have; either back to a newer old model or a different newer model; or both  depending on the results.

Last question, since I’m disputing my past two bills am I obligated to pay the full amount until this issue is resolved. Or can I pay what the average should be, until we resolved this dispute.

Sincerely,
John Bausano
5965 Orion Rd, Rochester, MI. 48306
248-651-3805

Data to support my issues
Month / Year Cost Kwh
Dec – 09 $125 35.5
Jan – 10 $146 41.5
Dec – 10 $133 31.9
Jan – 11 $162 36.8
Dec – 11 $193 42
Jan – 12 $278 52.4

Average for Dec 09 / 10
$129 and 33.7 Kwh
Compared to Dec 11
$193 and 42 Kwh

Having an increase of 150% in dollars and 125% in Kwh
Average for Jan 10 / 11
$154 and 39.15 Kwh
Compared to Jan 12
$278 and 52.4 Kwh

From: Gena Souter [mailto:gena421@gmail.com]
Sent: Friday, January 13, 2012 2:38 PM
To: MPSCEDOCKETS
Subject: “Case No. U-17000.”

We received our smart meter in June 2011 and since then our bill has be higher. The last bill I received yesterday was $384.00, a 67% increase from last year. Nothing in my

home has changed except for I upgraded all my appliances, energy efficient. I called and DTE blames the government for all the fees. I requested someone to come out and they explained that the old meters weren’t picking up old equipment in the home. We can not  afford to pay these prices. It may be cheaper to run our generator all month. Hopefully
you can get some answers and stop letting the Electric company get rich from the poor.  If they can’t be stopped I’m sure there will be lots of people looking for help paying their bills.

10 thoughts on “Publicly Posted Complaints to MPSC About Higher Bills

  1. DTE installed a “smart meter” w/out any notification (they claimed to have sent) and it seems have figured out how to control complaints filed with MPSC by inflating electric us Prior to the new meter so it looks “normal”! Our use went up 129% since last year, home is 989 square feet- one floor- 2 people- empty 10 hours 5 days a week- uses wood pellet stove for heat and propane heater – and everything is unplugged w/exception of wood stove fan & 1 small fan during work day so how on earth can it be 129% higher! A wood pellet stove has no thermostat and stays on a constant setting (only lower when it’s much warmer) as well as the fan being used on the same setting to circulate warm air down our hall so…. Where did this EXCESSIVE increase manifest from? I called DTE as well as filing a complaint with MPSC, one DTE rep. told me “it may have been an estimated reading when they removed your old analog meter due to a STRAY dog”. I asked her if she was kidding because if you had the old meter in hand then this phantom stray dog must have eaten it while DTE installed the new meter right? Then she transfers me to a Supervisor! Oh, and NOW the bill online says it was an ACTUAL reading!
    Really! When I asked in a prior call to have the old meter calibrated for accuracy 4 days after this new meter popped up I received this answer from DTE was “we’re sorry it’s been DISPOSED of” so it can’t be tested! Imagine my surprise that this ONE lone meter had been scrapped when scrap is paid for by the TON, come on now, DTE must think us customers are stupid huh!
    The DTE rep. who called from DTE acted like it’s all a big joke and even had the nerve to snicker during our call to show her who cares attitude. Nice! 8 days after this new meter was installed our KW use went from 36-39 per day to 6-10 per day and DTE says you must have changed something! NO we DIDN’T change 1 thing nor have we for the last 7 years, nothing. We even tested our home for electric bleed with the result of 0 bleed on our end. So WHERE did all those Extra KW we’re paying/paid for go to I wonder @ an average of 30 KW per day?
    I hope for a favorable response from the filed complaint but since DTE says it’s “normal use” (for a tanning salon it may be) who knows, we can only hope MPSC can see that many KW use for a small home is Crazy High and make some adjustments. Cross my fingers.

  2. Maybe it is time for 5,000 or so customers to walk out with a hammer and put their SmartAzz meters out of commission. Civil disobedience time. They are not going to put 5,000 meter smashers in jail.

    • Lawrence – Who among us has not wanted to do exactly what you suggest? There are times when civil disobedience may be the appropriate tactic, but it must always be focused, with due consideration to probable consequences to oneself and others.

  3. There is nothing new here. The courts and MPSC is working with DTE to cheat the citizens from their money. The same thing is happening in other states and the courts and the utilities commission are delaying and playing games just to cheat us. It’s their game and we just pawns. I tried talking to attorney general, my congressman, the commission and they all tell me that DTE is right. It’s a shame our government officials remain in office and help big business continue to cheat us.

  4. DTE smart meter was installed on my house Nov/2012 without my knowledge got the bill it was triple of what I normally pay when I called DTE. I was informed that a new meter was installed and it said I haven’t paid an electric bill in 9 months I was in shutoff status. Although, I argued and complained I still am having to pay a bill for $800 and some dollars in which at the beginning they wanted money I didn’t have within a couple weeks. But they were nice enough to set me up with a payment in which is really nothing I can afford. To top that off I get my new bill for Feb/2013 it’s double to triple of my usual bills as gas an electric is. So with my payment plan and my monthly bill to be more than my rent maybe even. I don’t understand how they can give you an outrageous bill for electric cause they say you haven’t been paying an electric bill for 9 months and ready to shut your services off.
    So frustrating.

  5. I am having problems with excessively high bills from DTE. When I called them they said they would send someone to read the meter and then I received a letter saying my reading was correct. Now I have another $360 bill. This is unacceptable. I am senior citrizen on fixed income, and I had a high eficiency energy saving furnace installed two years ago. I have never experienced electric bills this high. I live in the Franklin Michigan zip code and haven’t run an air conditioner in more than a month, and have my furnace set on 69, most of the time, never higher than 70 and only for a few hours that high.
    They have terrible custpmer service and I feel like I am powerless .

  6. In Augest 2011 DTE said they could not get a reading from my new meater, so they estomated the bill and charged me for 59 days even thou I still paid every month without missing a payment. I called them and got the same runaround that they tell every one., I wish we could all get together and stop them from robing us they way they are and hurting our health with what they call a smart meater.

  7. I have a 3350 sq ft house…my bills the past 2 months have been in the $500′s….since we have had our “smart meter” (smart for who?). Our usage last year was 41.0 this month….now it is 101.0?!! During a mild winter? I don’t think so. Talked to other people. One friend of mine said her bill jumped from $70 to $200. Same with other people I have talked to. All complained that this has gone on in the past few months. Same response by DTE: “yes, our meters are correct.”

  8. DTE installed a smart meter on 12/11 at our business, and our bill the next month jumped up atleast 50%. We have done nothing different and the meter reported we used a lot. And when I talked to DTE about it, they just said your are using too much. We are having a mild winter and our heat is electric, and we have not used much of it. Try complaining to the utilities commission, senators, state reps, local media. The more voices that complain, the better someone will listen. DTE told me that the smart meters are sensitive, even if someone is charging their cell phone, the meter will pick it up. $1,800 a month to charge a cell phone? These smart meters are bad news for consumers.

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