Smart Meters – To Guard or NOT to Guard?

by Vigilant Dave
(Revised 06/30/14)

We have been saying for more than a year now that utility customers in southeastern Michigan who still have their utility issued analog electric meters should guard those meters. Today it is easier than ever before to do that.

For anyone who understands the harm that is caused by either a smart meter or by the so called ‘opt-out’ meter, protecting your existing analog meter should be a top priority.

Some folks will say “What’s the point since I will have to take a smart meter eventually?” Actually we don’t think you will have to take it eventually.  Experience has been that those who defend existing analog meters and stand their ground with DTE still have their analog meter – even years after the initial installation attempt!

The important points to keep in mind are that the utility has no lawful authority for the installation of smart meters in the first place. What they are doing is illegal on its face. There is no federal law, no state law, and no lawfully issued regulation of the Public Service Commission that specifically authorizes the devices known as ‘smart meters’ to be attached to anyone’s home or business. There is no law or regulation that makes acceptance of such a device a lawful condition for receiving electrical service.

The utility’s sole claim to legality is their reliance on state laws and regulations that define ‘meter’ in a way that in no way covers the ‘smart’ devices they are now attempting to install on non consenting customers.

In the absence of specific lawful authority to install  a ‘smart’ device on your property, all rights reside in you if you are the owner of the home or business. You would have a legal action for trespass open to you as a property owner if the monopoly utility installs, after being forbidden by you, a device on your property not authorized by law. Many people have been deemed to have given their ‘implied consent’ to the ‘smart’ device because they did not object to such an installation, often because they were never informed by DTE that the devices were controversial or that they had a choice in the matter.

The law is not on the side of the utility. But DTE relies on bluff, bluster and bullying tactics to convince people otherwise. And all the while the Public Service Commission effectively “looks the other way” and does not carry out its responsibilities to reign in the monopoly and protect the public.

We are now recommending a product called the ‘Tatar Guard’, which effectively locks your meter enclosure and is designed to make it very hard indeed for an installer to just walk on your property when you are not home and install a smart meter. The Tatar Guard, or similar device, will protect your meter far better than just putting up a sign or putting a padlock through the loop.

Please see our page on installing a meter guard:

Excellent information is also available at:

Our advice to people who have already installed a Tatar guard or similar device is to stand your ground. Do not be intimidated by bullying tactics.

The best response to any letter DTE may send you demanding you consent to a smart meter installation is this:

     “I will not provide access to your company for the installation on my home of any device not authorized by law. I do not believe there is any federal or state law or MPSC regulation that requires me to do so. But if you believe my existing meter, which you supplied, is no longer measuring my electrical usage accurately, or is otherwise defective, I will surely be willing to setup an appointment with you at any reasonable time for one of your installers to come to my home or business and replace the existing meter with another utility issued meter of like kind and quality. For this purpose I will provide all necessary access.”

The value of such a response to DTE is that you are making it clear that you are not denying them access to carry out their legally authorized functions and you are not in breach of any responsibility you have under the law or duly issued regulations of the Public Service Commission.



16 thoughts on “Smart Meters – To Guard or NOT to Guard?

  1. We had a Tatar gaurd on our meter for a year and a half but now DTE has shifted their strategy to claim it is a safety hazard to lock a meter therefore they can shut off power without going thru the usual notice procedure. We are going on 5 days without power. I have it from a good source that DTE has lists of names and will randomly make a point with whomever they choose.

  2. Hi I need some advice. I opted out of the smart meter about a year ago. I paid consumers power $69.00 to opt out and $9.72 per month for a manual meter reading. I watch my readings and noticed that 4 times last year my meter was estimated. I called consumers and ask them why I had to pay $9.72 on the months that were estimated. They explained that some times they can’t read the meter because of bad weather or maybe the meter reader is ill and it has always been that way. I explained that I realize that but I am being charged for a manual meter reading on my bill and that has not always been that way. I am being charged that because I opted out of the smart meter and so I shouldn’t be charged for a reading that is not being taken.
    I finely got throw to her and she had no answer for my question. She said she would get back to me with an answer but as of yet I have heard nothing. They didn’t know how to answer my question. What do you think of that. Let me know what to do next. Thanks, Brillo

    • rngg, what you are up against is blatant fraud – a fraud to which the Michigan Public Service Commission is a party. Those charges were calculated as the cost of manual meter reading on the presumption that the meter would be manually read every month. That is how the issue was presented to and approved by the MPSC. The people at MPSC were not born yesterday. They knew full well those meters were not going to be manually read EVERY month. Yet they approved the charges. We went through the same thing when DTE presented its case for monthly opt-out charges. I was present at hearings when interveners in the case made the argument that the meters would not, in fact, be read every month so the charges shouldn’t be so high. But the argument fell on deaf ears before the administrative judge and before the 3 member Commission. You can press this argument if you so choose, but recognize that they are going to get away with it – again, with the complicity of the regulators who are supposed to be protecting the public but do not.

  3. Hello, I just bought a house in Saint Clair, Michigan and got my DTE notice of “smart meter” install last week (11/11/15). I am vehemently against this, but am I just wasting my time if ALL of my neighbors are just going to blindly let them install? Any advise will be greatly appreciated and thank you in advance.

  4. Everyone is worried about the outcome of all cases which have already been in COURTS, how future cases may be affected by those cases! Some valid legal issues being ignored should be presented, such as the fact that MPSC purgered themselves on the stand when they said they only do utility rates. MCL SECTION 460. 62 states otherwise, MPSC is responsible for public peace, health and safety. I am not an attorney, but all of my years I have been told that purgery by anyone on a court stand CONSTITUTES JAIL TIME. So why is MPSC representatives still not charged with purgery?
    UTILITIES do not have our permission or the right to trespass, endangerment of health and safety by continuing to force these deadly weapons of mass murder on each of us. My CIVIL RIGHTS, my legal constitutional amendment rights and human rights has been violated by UTILITIES, MPSC, attorney general’s office, even by a governor who will not defend our constitutional rights.

    • lacycat, There is no question MPSC officials have been dishonest with the public when they say they only have authority to do rates. The problem with bringing perjury charges is that an official has to say something known to be factually untrue while sworn in as a witness. The untrue statements made are usually made by an attorney representing the MPSC, or by an administrative judge or by the Commissioners. None of these people are witnesses under oath. Besides that, who is going to prosecute? Our Attorney General who will not even enforce the felony surveillance law?

      • Purgery is purgery, and mcl section 460. 62 is proof that MPSC purgered themselves on the stand, each case should be r eexamined due to this fact alone. McL. SECTION 460. 62 . To protect PUBLIC peace, health and safety.

  5. I live in small town, Minnesota. The city started installing smart water meters a year ago and I have not allowed them in my home. They have 2 yet to install (mine being one)and now have informed us that they have a lawyer writing up action to force their way into my home or I will go to jail and/or pay 1,000 dollar fine. I haven’t been able to find anything saying that I don’t have to do what they say, until I saw this article. Can they actually get away with arresting and fining people large amounts of money? I’ve done nothing but read article after article and I’m at a loss. I can’t afford a 1,000 dollar fine let alone an attorney. Any insight asap would be welcome. I have talked to a group in Minnesota and haven’t gotten enough

    • Colleen, A city has the power to pass an ordinance, which would have the force of law. This is something no privately owned utility can do. Unfortunately such an ordinance may very well mandate smart water meters and make it a misdemeanor to interfere with their installers. If that is the case police could make an arrest and a person could face a minor criminal charge and/or a fine for resisting. So my advice is (1) First find out if there is such an ordinance. In the absence of an ordinance the city might terminate water service but would have no other remedy at their disposal. (2) If there is an ordinance your next step should be to challenge the ordinance in the regular court system – probably in the circuit court of your county. If you can’t afford an attorney consider representing yourself. More and more people are finding it necessary to represent themselves in court because the attorneys have made their services absolutely unaffordable to most middle class people. You may be able to find someone else who has done this in your state who will help you create the necessary paperwork. But you will have to stand up in court and argue against the city attorney before the judge.

  6. Can the electric company be made to install the smart meter on a pole away from a home like they do the temporary meters used when building a home etc?

    • Em, DTE’s stated policy is that it is ok for the homeowner to move the meter to a pole away from house if the homeowner pays for this. DTE has not offered to pay anyone to do this. It is an expensive solution for the homeowner and does not solve all the problems. If you compare the cost of doing this with the cost of “opt-out” fees over a 10 year period, it might be cheaper to move the meter and accomplish much the same thing. It only reduces the RF exposure, while doing nothing for the privacy invasion or the dirty electricity on the home wiring.

  7. I am just curious , has anyone ever tried to use a wire mesh similar to the mesh in the door of a microwave oven and build a grounded “bucket of sorts to place over their meters. the back of the meter box is already grounded and metal. if this type of thing can protect (or is supposed to) from microwaves why cant it also protect from these meters? even if it just causes issues with the remote read portion of the smart meters they will still need to send someone out and it would defeat their reported purpose for having these. I don’t havbe a dog in this fight as I make my own power but it still try to resist control where I can. anyway just curious if anyone has ever tried anything like this. thanks mike

    • Mike, Don’t count too much on the back of the meter housing blocking RF from entering the house. It turns out there is still plenty of RF that gets around this and enters the house anyway. What is needed there is a much larger panel on the inside of the house behind the meter, made of metal or metal screening and properly grounded. There are some products that are made of wire mesh and fit around the glass part of the meter. We don’t know whether or not they interfere with the readings getting to the utility. We would be interested in hearing from anyone who has tried such a product and has found (over a period of 3 months or longer) that it is effective and does not block the signal.

      • Dr. Kabish, This is a possible solution. The tricky part will be to not weaken the signal to the point that your meter readings cannot reach the utility. If you do that the utility will probably want to enroll you in their “opt-out” program and start charging you monthly fees for manual meter reading.

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