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MARCH 14TH, 2017 – A THIRD HEARING ON THE METER CHOICE BILL AND A GREAT PRESENTATION ON ELECTRIC CHOICE BY THE MACKINAC CENTER FOR PUBLIC POLICY.   Because there had been concerns expressed by committee members about possible shifting of costs from opt-out customers to smart meter customers, today’s hearing in the Michigan House Energy Committee began with a special presentation by Richard Meltzer, a retired PhD statistical researcher and consultant to the U.S. Department of Energy. Dr. Meltzer had also participated as an intervener in the MPSC case U-17053, the case in which the present opt-out fees for DTE were determined. Key testimony included Meltzer’s assertion that the opt-out fees determined in that case were punitive, designed not to recover costs but to discourage opt-outs, and that DTE has been very selective in attaching certain costs to classes of customers while not doing so in other cases, in order to suit its own purposes. He provided specifics in the form of exhibits from the U-17053 case to back up his assertion that the net cost shift between smart meter customers and opt-out customers had been overwhelmingly in the direction of burdening the opt-out customers.

A decision was made to defer voting on the merits of the meter choice bill to allow more time to address concerns of some committee members. Rep Glenn offered an amendment to modify the text of HB 4220,  primarily to remove water meters from this bill thereby limiting this bill to energy utilities (electric and gas) that are regulated by the Michigan Public Services Commission. The definition of “traditional meter” was also improved to remove any ambiguity that “traditional meter” could mean anything other than an analog meter. The amendment of the bill’s text was approved unanimously, with understanding that a separate bill will be introduced for the smart water meters.

The Mackinac Center presentation, by Jason Hayes, was a plea for free market principles in the electricity markets. Examples were given that in states where electric provider choice was not capped at 10% (including Michigan between 2000 and 2008) electric rates were much lower than in states where there was no choice or choice capped. In the questions following this presentation Rep Kivella asked if Mr. Hayes believed it was appropriate for smart meter opt-out rates to be set at an arbitrary figure by this legislative committee of “largely non experts” or by the Public Service Commission. The response was that “just at a gut level I don’t like the idea of trusting a Public Service Commission except where you have to, and in this case, setting electricity rates you have to.” He indicated that he would prefer a market based setting of all rates but that the PSC is the system we have.

After the Mackinac Center presentation there were more public comments on the meter choice bill. Complete video of this hearing here.

 

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by Jeanine Deal

March 1st, 2017 – Before next Tuesday, please call one or more of the Energy Policy Committee members, and ask them to support HB 4220, Utility Meter Choice.

Then, please plan on attending the next public hearing for HB 4220 in Lansing on Tuesday, March 7th, at 9 am, in the Anderson House Office Building (across from the Lansing Capitol Building).

Please pass this message on to all you know in favor of this legislation.  Thank You!

Energy Committee members and contact information (sponsor and co-sponsors noted, no need to call them):

Gary Glenn (R) Committee Chair 98th District (Sponsor of HB 4220 – no need to call unless to say “Thank you!”)
Web page: http://gophouse.org/representatives/central/glenn/
Phone: 517-373-1791
Email: GaryGlenn@house.mi.gov

District Map: http://gophouse.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/098.pdf
Bay County (part):  Auburn city, Beaver Township,  Fraser Township,  Garfield Township,  Gibson Township.  Midland city (part):  Mount Forest Township,  Pinconning city,  Pinconning Township,  Williams Township.  Midland County (part):  Homer Township,  Jerome Township,  Larkin Township,  Lee Township,  Lincoln Township,  Midland city (part),  Midland Township

Roger Hauck (R) Majority Vice-Chair, 99th District
Web page: http://gophouse.org/representatives/central/hauck/ Phone: (517) 373-1789
Email: RogerHauck@house.mi.gov

District Map: http://gophouse.org/representatives/central/hauck/district-map/
Isabella County, Midland County (part),  Coleman city,  Edenville Township,  Geneva Township,  Greendale Township,  Hope Township,  Ingersoll Township,  Jasper Township,  Mills Township,  Mount Haley Township,  Porter Township,  Warren Township

Tom Barrett (R) 71st District (Co-sponsor of HB 4220 – no need to call unless to say “Thank you!”)
Web page: http://gophouse.org/representatives/central/barrett/
Phone: 517-373-0853
Email: 
TomBarrett@house.mi.gov
District Map: http://gophouse.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/071.pdf
Eaton County (part),  Bellevue Township,  Benton Township,  Carmel Township,  Charlotte city,  Chester Township,  Delta Charter Township,  Eaton Township (part),  Eaton Rapids Township,  Grand Ledge city (part),  Kalamo Township,  Lansing city (part),  Olivet city,  Oneida Charter Township,  Potterville city,  Roxand Township,  Sunfield Township,  Vermontville Township,  Walton Township,  Windsor Charter Township

Tristin Cole (R) 105th District
Web page: http://gophouse.org/representatives/northernmi/cole/
Phone: 517-373-0829
Email: 
TristonCole@house.mi.gov
District Map: http://gophouse.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/105.pdf
Antrim County, Charlevoix County, Montmorency County, Oscoda County, Otsego County

Jim Tedder (R) 43rd District
Web page: http://gophouse.org/representatives/southeast/tedder/
Phone: 517-373-0615
Email: 
JimTedder@house.mi.gov
District Map: http://gophouse.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/043.pdf
Oakland County (part),  Independence Township,  Lake Angelus city,  Village of Clarkston city,  Waterford Township (part)

Joseph Bellino (R) 17th District
Web page: http://gophouse.org/representatives/southeast/bellino/
Phone: (517) 373-1530
Email: JosephBellino@house.mi.gov
District Map: http://gophouse.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/017.pdf
Monroe County (part):  Ash Township,  Berlin Township,  Exeter Township,  Frenchtown Township,  London Township,  Monroe city,  Monroe Township (part).  Wayne County (part):  Flat Rock city,  Rockwood city,  Sumpter Township

Diana Farrington (R) 30th District
Web page: http://gophouse.org/representatives/southeast/diana-farrington/
Phone: 517-373-7768
Email: DianaFarrington@house.mi.gov

District Map: http://gophouse.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/030.pdf
Macomb County (part):  Shelby Charter Township (part),  Sterling Heights city (part),  Utica city

Beth Griffin (R) 66th District
Web page: http://gophouse.org/representatives/central/griffin/ Phone: (517) 373-0839
Email: BethGriffin@house.mi.gov

District Map: http://gophouse.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/066.pdf
Kalamazoo County (part):  Alamo Township,  Cooper Township,  Parchment city, Van Buren County

Steven Johnson (R) 72nd District
Web page: http://gophouse.org/representatives/westmi/johnson/
Phone: (517) 373-0840
Email: StevenJohnson@house.mi.gov

District Map: http://gophouse.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/072.pdf
Allegan County (part):  Dorr Township,  Leighton Township,  Wayland city,  Wayland Township.  Kent County (part):  Gaines Township,  Kentwood city

Beau LaFave (R) 108th District
Web page: http://gophouse.org/representatives/up/lafave/
Phone: (517) 373-0156
Email: BeauLaFave@house.mi.gov

District Map: http://gophouse.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/108.pdf
Delta County, Dickinson County, Menominee County

James Lower (R) 70th District
Web page: http://gophouse.org/representatives/central/lower/
Phone: (517) 373-0834
Email: JamesLower@house.mi.gov

District Map: http://gophouse.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/070.pdf
Gratiot County (part):  Alma city,  Arcada Township (part),  Bethany Township,  Emerson Township (part),  Pine River Township,  St Louis city,  Seville Township, Montcalm County

John Reilly (R) 46th District
Web page: http://gophouse.org/representatives/southeast/reilly/
Phone: 517-373-1798
Email: JohnReilly@house.mi.gov

District Map: http://gophouse.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/046.pdf
Oakland County (part):  Addison Township,  Brandon Township,  Oakland Charter Township (part),  Orion Township,  Oxford Township

Donna Lasinski (D) Minority Vice-Chair, 52nd District
Web page: http://housedems.com/state-rep-donna-lasinski
Phone: (517) 373-0828
Email: DonnaLasinski@house.mi.gov

District Map: http://housedems.com/district-52-map
Washtenaw County (part): Ann Arbor city (part), Bridgewater Township, Chelsea city, Dexter Township, Freedom Township, Lima Township, Lodi Township, Lyndon Township, Manchester Township, Northfield Township, Salem Township, Saline city, Saline Township, Scio Township, Sharon Township, Sylvan Township, Webster Township

Scott Dianda (D) 110th District (Co-sponsor of HB 4220 – no need to call unless to say “Thank you!”)
Web page: http://housedems.com/state-rep-scott-dianda
Phone: (517) 373-0850
Email: scottdianda@house.mi.gov

District Map: http://housedems.com/district-110-map
Baraga County, Gogebic County, Houghton County, Iron County, Keweenaw County, Marquette County (part): Ishpeming Township, Powell Township, Ontonagon County

John Kivela (D) 109th District
Web page: http://housedems.com/state-rep-john-kivela
Phone: (517) 373-0498
Email: johnkivela@house.mi.gov

District Map: http://housedems.com/district-109-map
Alger County, Luce County, Marquette County (part): Champion Township, Chocolay Township, Ely Township, Ewing Township, Forsyth Township, Humboldt Township, Ishpeming city, Marquette city, Marquette Township, Michigamme Township, Negaunee city, Negaunee Township, Republic Township, Richmond Township, Sands Township, Skandia Township, Tilden Township, Turin Township, Wells Township, West Branch Township, Schoolcraft County

LaTonya Garrett (D) 7th District (Co-sponsor to HB 4220 – no need to call unless to say “Thank you!”)
Web page: http://housedems.com/state-rep-latanya-garrett
Phone: (517) 373-2276
Email: LaTanyaGarrett@house.mi.gov

District Map: http://housedems.com/district-7-map
Wayne county (part), Detroit city (part), Highland Park city

Darrin Camilleri (D) 23rd District
Web page: http://housedems.com/state-rep-darrin-camilleri
Phone: (517) 373-0855
Email: DarrinCamilleri@house.mi.gov

District Map: http://housedems.com/district-23-map
Monroe

Brian Elder (D) 96th District
Web page: http://housedems.com/state-rep-brian-elder
Phone: (517) 373-0158
Email: BrianElder@house.mi.gov

District Map: http://housedems.com/district-96-map
Bay County (part): Bangor Township, Bay City city, Essexville city, Frankenlust Township, Hampton Township, Kawkawlin Township, Merritt Township, Monitor Township, Portsmouth Township

Patrick Green (D) 28th District
Web page: http://housedems.com/state-rep-patrick-green
Phone: (517) 373-1772
Email: PatrickGreen@house.mi.gov

District Map: http://housedems.com/district-28-map
Macomb County (part): Center Line city, Warren city (part)

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by David Sheldon

February 27th, 2017 – All of us who care about the meter choice issue owe a debt of gratitude to Mark Lerner and the organization he represents, Constitutional Alliance. Mark has given generously of his time and experience in legislative matters to assist us in achieving meter choice legislation. Constitutional Alliance has, as its main issue, a campaign against forced biometrics. One of the central principles of his group is A free society and a surveillance society cannot be reconciled. Biometrics is the linchpin to a surveillance society.”

Forced biometrics involves the Real ID Act, any requirement that people submit to high resolution facial photographs or retina scans for id purposes. These technologies pose an unprecedented threat to human freedom, in a society where there are high resolution cameras on every street corner. Individuals can be tracked with precision and all their movements stored in a central database. The ability of individuals to participate freely in political discourse or protest demonstrations becomes chilled in direct proportion to this breakdown of anonymity.

Mark saw in our smart meter movement issues and positions, particularly those dealing with privacy, freedom from surveillance and property rights, very much in harmony with what those for which his organization stands. Mark regularly works with legislators in many states to resolve issues involving privacy and biometrics. He has worked with us in recent years to help persuade Michigan legislators of the need for meter choice legislation. His efforts, along with our own, have brought us to the point where we have House Bill 4220 being heard by the House Energy Committee and a real shot at getting this legislation passed – at least by the House.

Michigan Stop Smart Meters is and has been from the beginning a non-partisan organization. We are not right or left. We have not so far endorsed any candidate for political office. If we do so in future, we will pick candidates who have helped us in our smart meter fight, regardless of party. Mark has written an excellent commentary on similar principles his organization follows titled My own appreciation for the organizations that work together to protect our freedom” here.

Again, thank you Mark for all you have done!

 

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AN EXCELLENT BILL THAT NEEDS A TWEAK
(Revised 2/27/17)

by David Sheldon

February 25th, 2017 Last Tuesday we filled the hearing room and much of the overflow room of the House Energy Committee. This was the first of two hearings for testimony on House Bill 4220, the proposed law that would guarantee meter choice to utility customers. energymtg2-02212017The second meeting on the bill will take place March 7th at 9 am, again in the House Office Building, Room 517, 124 North Capitol Avenue, Lansing, at 9 am. We urge as many as possible to attend this hearing as well.

WATCH 90 MINUTE VIDEO OF THE MEETING HERE!

The meeting began with a very strong presentation by Chairman Glenn, the bill sponsor, as to why his proposed legislation is needed. Glenn stressed “this is not a technical bill” and “does not require Committee members to have technical knowledge” of the utility business. It is, he stated, a “philosophical bill” that only requires a simple recognition that people should have control of what is done on their property. He said it is “none of our business” why people don’t want the advanced meters, whether it be privacy, health or something else.

This was followed by a number of spirited presentations by advocates for the bill that covered the health, privacy and fire issues. Included were presentations by electrical engineer William Bathgate, by retired fire chief Duane Roddy and by former Rep Tom McMillin who had chaired the smart meter hearing two years ago. Many who had signed up to speak were unable to do so in the limited time and may get their chance at the March 7th continuation of hearings on this bill. As it is possible there will again not be time for all to speak, we recommend taking your written comments or exhibits to the hearing with 25 copies to hand out. If you are not able to attend the hearing you may submit your comments by email to the Committee Clerk, kgawronski@house.mi.gov

We are optimistic about what this bill will do. The bill respects property rights and freedom of choice for utility customers. If passed in its present form it will allow utility customers to choose whether or not to give up privacy in order to gain other touted benefits of the new technology. The bill, as written, will also allow every customer who had a smart meter installed before the effective date of this legislation, to have that meter removed and replaced with a traditional meter – all at no charge. That would cover nearly all of the 3 million plus smart meters already installed. Going forward, the $150 smart meter removal fee could only be charged to customers who agreed to take a smart meter and then changed their mind after it was installed. The bill also will eliminate ongoing monthly opt-out fees for all customers who are willing to report their own meter readings.

We must acknowledge the contribution of another smart meter leader who has pointed out, correctly, that a certain ambiguity in the present language of the bill could allow some utilities to claim that digital electronic meters they were installing long before smart meters are, in some sense, “traditional”, and thereby satisfy the requirements of the legislation. While this is a concern to many of us, our legislative process provides opportunities to remove these ambiguities. Some of us who will testify on March 7th will raise this issue but we hope none will forget to emphasize what is right with the bill and our appreciation for the efforts and risks legislators have taken to bring it to this point.

At this critical time, we need to focus on building momentum for a bill that resolves many of our issues. We have lived too long without a bill that will protect us. Let’s work hard together right now to get the bill passed.

Hearings on this bill will continue on March 7th at 9 am. Consumers Energy was expecting to testify at this hearing but time ran out so that they are now scheduled to be first up at the next hearing.

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The Chairman of the Michigan Public Service Commission will be making an extended presentation to the Energy Committee on February 28th. There are several proposed laws before the Energy Committee now in which MPSC has an interest. Keep in mind that the reason for our present predicament is the deceptive conduct and miserable failure of her agency to protect the utility customers. She will try to defend her agency’s performance. She might include in her testimony the view of her agency on our proposed smart meter bill. It may be worthwhile for any of our movement who can do so to attend that hearing also and to sign up to make a short public comment expressing our frustration with how her agency has dealt with us.

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PARKING INFORMATION:

Townsend parking ramp – at corner of Capitol and Allegan streets.
This one is the closest – 2 block walk to House Office Bldg, but sometimes this ramp is open to permit holders only.
http://mi-lansing.civicplus.com/Facilities/Facility/Details/Townsend-Ramp-120

North Capitol parking ramp, 316 North Capitol Ave
This one is 2 blocks north of House Office Bldg.
http://mi-lansing.civicplus.com/Facilities/Facility/Details/North-Capitol-Ramp-119

South Capitol parking ramp, 320 South Capitol Ave
This one is 4 blocks south of House Office Bldg.
http://mi-lansing.civicplus.com/Facilities/Facility/Details/South-Capitol-Ramp-118

On street (metered parking) – is available on a number of streets near House Office Bldg. But there is a 2 hour time limit and rate is $1.25/hour.

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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!

 

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Things are moving fast now!
Your presence is needed!

(Extensive revisions made 2/18/17)

Tuesday February 21st and Tuesday March 7th, 2017 are the hearing dates in Lansing! (Date of 2nd hearing corrected!) Last week we reported on the newly formed House Energy Policy Committee under the chairmanship of Rep Gary Glenn. This week Chairman Glenn re-introduced a meter choice bill nearly identical to last year’s bill but under the new number of HB 4220. He has issued a press release announcing two hearings on this proposed legislation, both to take place at 9 am. These will be public hearings where anyone can fill out a card and address the Committee.

We need, first of all, a big turnout so the Committee and the House recognize that a lot of people are affected by this issue. The hearing will last 1-1/2 hours and will be videotaped by House TV. The second hearing on March 7th will give us another 1-1/2 hours.

We need to make sure that key issues are well covered. This bill is being proposed, and will be sold to the legislature primarily on grounds of property rights and privacy, though health issues and risk of fires will also be in focus. The utilities will doubtless have representatives there who will cite experts and conclusions supposedly reached by these experts. To counter that we need to cite experts and present evidence as well as our opinions.

We recognize that a hearing at 9 am on a weekday may be harder for some to attend than the hearing two years ago that started around 5 pm. But please get there if at all possible. If you resisted a smart meter installation because of well-founded privacy concerns, the Committee needs to hear that. That is a thread that needs to run through many of our comments. And if you have a story to tell about how your power was shutoff or your health suffered because of a meter, they need to hear that. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking come anyway! Your presence will help convince wavering legislators! If you will speak, plan to come early and sign up to speak before the start of the meeting!

Hard copy exhibits may also be submitted to the Committee Clerk. If you make a written submission at the hearing, be sure to bring 25 copies so the clerk can distribute to all committee members! For those of you who can’t make the hearing, written exhibits may be submitted to the clerk of the committee: kgawronski@house.mi.gov

The hearings will be in Room 519 of the Anderson House Office Building at 124 North Capitol Avenue. Again, if you care about meter choice, we need you to be there!

PARKING INFORMATION:

Townsend parking ramp – at corner of Capitol and Allegan streets.
This one is the closest – 2 block walk to House Office Bldg, but sometimes this ramp is open to permit holders only.
http://mi-lansing.civicplus.com/Facilities/Facility/Details/Townsend-Ramp-120

North Capitol parking ramp, 316 North Capitol Ave
This one is 2 blocks north of House Office Bldg.
http://mi-lansing.civicplus.com/Facilities/Facility/Details/North-Capitol-Ramp-119

South Capitol parking ramp, 320 South Capitol Ave
This one is 4 blocks south of House Office Bldg.
http://mi-lansing.civicplus.com/Facilities/Facility/Details/South-Capitol-Ramp-118

On street (metered parking) – is available on a number of streets near House Office Bldg. But there is a 2 hour time limit and rate is $1.25/hour.

 

 

 

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FIRST MEETING OF THE
MICHIGAN HOUSE ENERGY COMMITTEE

February 7th, 2017 – On this day the first (organizational) meeting took place for the Energy Committee of the Michigan House of Representatives, mich-house-energy-policy-committee-2017Chaired by Rep Gary Glenn. This is a new day for meter choice legislation because the new chairman, unlike his predecessor, strongly supports our cause and the cause of energy consumers generally.

We think all Michigan smart meter activists will be heartened to watch the entire first meeting under Rep Glenn’s leadership. Clearly he intends to fight for energy consumers at all levels – residential customers, school systems and large industrial users of electricity. He makes the point that school systems, for example, will be able to hire more teachers with the money they save when they have a choice of energy provider.

Rep Glenn believes the whole matter of whether DTE and Consumers should have a full monopoly in their respective service territories should be re-evaluated, notwithstanding the legislation that was passed in December of 2016.

Glenn stresses that the smart meter issue is basically one of property rights and a monopoly utility being able to force new and unwanted technology on its customers. Smart meter activists will find his remarks on that subject 12 minutes and 30 seconds into the meeting, which can be viewed HERE.

PLEASE CHECK OUR HOME PAGE FOR OTHER NEW ARTICLES!