Michigan PSC Refuses to Hear Expert Testimony

By David Sheldon

December 6th, 2012 – Today, in the reopened general rate case U-15768, the MPSC brazenly refused to hear expert testimony concerning anything other than the purely financial aspects of ‘smart meters’. This is the case the Michigan Court of Appeals ordered reopened for a do over of the smart meter issue, specifying that this time the agency must develop a “competent record” and address the “risks and burdens” of smart meter technology and the experience in other states.  These issues were not addressed at all the first time the agency handled this case.

Dr. David O. Carpenter, world-renowned expert on the effects of radio frequency radiation on human health, had offered his testimony in this case and graciously offered to come to Michigan for cross-examination before the MPSC.  That testimony will now be barred because there are no interveners willing or able to introduce it.

We have been informed that the original interveners in the case, having waived the issues of health and privacy the first time through, will have no standing to raise these issues now.  The only way these issues can be considered the second time through is if there are new interveners who had not previously waived these matters.  Four of us petitioned to intervene and all four were denied intervention by Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Theresa Sheets over a month ago on grounds that the “issues you intend to raise are outside the scope of this proceeding”. 

We appealed that decision and today the 3 member Commission appointed by the Governor upheld the decision of the ALJ.  Two of us who appealed attended the Commission meeting today in hopes of speaking in support of our appeal.  We were denied opportunity to speak until end of meeting under “Public Comments” after more than 50 cases, including ours, had already been ruled on in a meeting that lasted less than 20 minutes.

We fully intend to appeal this brazen decision to the Michigan Court of Appeals.  That court should have an interest in this matter since it is their remand order than MPSC is now defying.  We will ask for an emergency stay of proceedings in the reopened rate case until our appeal can be heard or a remedy provided.  Contempt of court citations may also be in order.

There is another MPSC case considering the smart meter opt-out proposal of Detroit Edison.  Both Edison and MPSC staff have clearly signaled their intent to block consideration of health and privacy issues in this case as well, and to limit this case very narrowly to the amount of the proposed opt-out fees.

We remain optimistic that Dr. Carpenter’s testimony may become admissible in one or both of the two circuit court cases now proceeding in Oakland County.

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