January 12, 2012 – Today the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) issued an Order opening an investigation into the health, safety and privacy concerns surrounding ‘smart’ electric meters. The Commission indicated in its order that the action was in response to objections voiced by individuals at recent public forums and in response to resolutions passed by 9 city governments. These resolutions were attached as appendices to the Order. See links at bottom for the Order, the public announcement with explanation how you can comment, and comments posted so far.
The investigation is to run until June with an initial 60 day period in which all electric utilities in the State of Michiganare to file documents stating their positions on the issues in controversy. Following that will be a 30 day period for public comment in response to the utility company filings. Finally a period of time is allowed for MPSC staff to sort out all the information and recommend some action to the Commission, possibly culminating in an Order.
The Order asks the utilities to state their position concerning opt-outs and what plans they might have to cover the cost of opt-outs if they intend to offer such a possibility.
Getting such an official investigation started has been one of the primary goals of those of us who oppose the smart meters. This is what nearly all of the City Councils have asked for – though we would have preferred they enact ordinances banning the devices.
The Order also states that Commission will seek to weigh all the evidence submitted in light of “limitations on our jurisdiction and limitations on our technical competence”
A major concern that we do have about this investigation is that it be rigorous and that the Commission not be too quick to simply defer to the expertise of the industry. We also do not think it appropriate for the Commission to fail to properly assert the jurisdiction that it clearly does have by statute.
We know that, on the Commission staff, there are many fine public servants who do have expertise and who do share, at least in part, our concerns. We are hopeful these fine staffers will, to the best of their ability, not allow this investigation to be derailed by political or industry pressures. We need to help those staffers to keep the investigation on track by keeping up the public pressure and continuing to educate the public and the elected representatives in the state’s capitol.