by David Sheldon
As previously announced, there will be a hearing in Lansing on HB 4220 sponsored by Rep Gary Glenn with 17 cosponsors. This is the smart meter legislation we have been waiting for. If passed, it will absolutely address the privacy issue for all utility customers and should go a long way toward addressing health issues experienced by some. We owe thanks to Rep Glenn and the cosponsors for going out on a limb to support this legislation. Now they need us to show our support if the bill is to have a chance to pass first the Energy Committee, and then the full house.
We are putting out this update to answer an impression in another newsletter that the legislation is somehow fatally flawed. It is not. That writer had a bold headline stating “New Bill Currently Does Not Require Utilities to Offer an Analog Meter Choice!” Still later the writer opines “If this bill is passed as it now reads, we have not won anything!” This, in my judgment, does an injustice to the drafters and supporters of the bill who have worked hard and taken risks to bring smart meter legislation to this point.
The point of the newsletter was that the definition of “traditional meter” was not nailed down as tight as it might have been, allowing for the possibility that a utility might be able to construe a meter with a digital display, but containing no smart meter features, as being in compliance with the proposed law. It is far from certain that the proposed legislation would be so interpreted, but it is a possibility. Even were that to happen, so many of the problems with the new meters would have been solved!
While any legislation might contain some feature that could be improved with the benefit of hindsight, the fact remains that this legislation would guarantee to all utility customers the right to say NO! No to a smart meter and no to a smart meter with the radio (allegedly) turned off. No to surveillance of personal activities. And No to paying an initial or monthly fee for that right, so long as the customer cooperates by sending in his or her own meter readings! And perhaps best of all that protection extends to electric, gas and water meters!
So let us all get on up to Lansing on Tuesday morning, February 21st at 9 am, or at the follow-up meeting on March 7th. Let us express our appreciation and our support for this bill!