June 20, 2011 -The City Council of Oak Park, Michigan unanimously passed a resolution on this day to the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) “expressing Council’s concern with the installation of DTE Energy Smart Meters and a request to explore the health and safety effects.”
At the time the resolution was passed DTE had already installed the new meters in the majority of Oak Park homes. Some homeowners had refused installation and had been put on a “delayed install list”. The utility had informed them that sooner or later they would have to accept the new meter.
Council noted that ‘smart’ electric meters provide a benefit to utilities by allowing remote meter reading and eliminating the need for someone to go onto each customer’s property to read a meter.
At the same time Council noted that a significant number of persons, including residents of Oak Park, have expressed their concerns about potential health effects of the ‘smart’ meters, as well as other concerns regarding their universal deployment in the City.
As one who attended and addressed Council at a number of these meetings, I can testify that concerns expressed by residents were about equally divided between health concerns and privacy concerns. Many noted that a great deal of information about a homeowner’s daily activities could be gathered by these new meters and that homeowners could have no assurance that the utility would not sell this information to marketing companies, or that the data could not be hacked into by others, including burglars. Others spoke of having medical conditions known to be aggravated by electromagnetic radiation, or spoke of heart pacemakers and other such devices.
Speeches at these Council meetings were often heated largely because the utility had an announced policy of “no op-outs”. The utility was, in fact, threatening homeowners who refused the new meters with having their electric power cut off.
The MPSC was requested to “delay the deployment of smart meters, pending a conclusion by MPSC, that such meters are safe and will not have short-term or long-term negative consequences to the citizens of Oak Park” and to “carefully examine other concerns that may be submitted to them by residents … to insure that all aspects of the issue are considered before final determination …”
The city’s Mayor, Gerald Naftaly, also expressed an intention for the city to work in cooperation with other Michigan cities through an inter city organization known as the Michigan League of Cities to express common concerns of all the city governments to the MPSC.
The full text of the resolution can be found here: Oak_Park_Smart_Meter_Resolution