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by David Sheldon

September 17th, 2017 – WE NEED HELP!  Michigan Stop Smart Meters has been working for more than 6 years to fight the forced installation of ‘smart’ utility meters by Michigan’s two largest utilities.

In 2015, when we brought in world renowned expert, Dr. David Carpenter, to testify before the Michigan Public Service Commission, we appealed for your financial support and many of you gave generously to make that event happen!  We are now at a juncture where there is much more to be done and we cannot do it without your support!

Our efforts to date have been in the political, educational, legal and regulatory arenas, and has resulted in much media coverage. Our efforts have also had much to do with the introduction of several bills in our legislature designed to protect utility customers – including the Opsommer bill, the McMillin bill and, most recently, the introduction of House Bill 4220 by current Michigan House Energy Chairman Gary Glenn.  But now we need to make a full court press to see that this bill is passed on by the Energy Committee to the full House. This will involve radio ads, print ads and extensive flyering. There are also some legal battles in the works. With your support we can do a lot. Without such support we cannot.

OUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS SO FAR!
We at Michigan Stop Smart Meters have, in concert with others, been struggling for more than six years now to raise health, safety and privacy issues with respect to so called “smart meters” now being deployed by DTE on the east side of state, and by Consumers Energy on the west side.

OUR POLITICAL WORK: In concert with others we petitioned city and county governments to endorse our cause, put on special PowerPoint presentations before city councils and got the backing of 34 local governments.  This resulted in a sham MPSC investigation, but also led to the introduction of three proposed new meter choice laws – the Opsommer bill, the McMillin bill and now under consideration House Bill 4220, also know as the Glenn bill.  It also led to the spectacularly successful hearing before the House Oversight Committee on December 2nd, 2014 and a series of hearings before the House Energy Committee in 2017.

OUR EDUCATIONAL WORK: We sponsored this website and public educational meetings in Allen Park, Cheboygan, Clinton Township, East Detroit, Detroit, Ferndale, Fraser, Grand Blanc, Grand Rapids, Holland, Midland, Muskegon, Parchment, Plymouth, Rochester, Romeo, Romulus and Taylor   We have been interviewed by Macomb Daily, Oakland Press, Detroit News, Hometown Newspapers, by Holland radio’s “Talk of the Town” program, by Fox17 News in Grand Rapids, by Channel 13 in Grand Rapids and most recently this year by Guy Gordon on WJR Radio and by WXYZ TV.

OUR LEGAL WORK: We closely followed and supported two cases in Oakland Circuit Court where Detroit Edison had sued local couples who changed their own meters when they became ill and could get no relief from the utility.  In one of the cases the couple had suffered an unjust decision early on from a circuit judge and was in need of our help to mount an appeal. We provided that help. That was the Stenman case and is reported elsewhere on this website. In the other case the couple needed some initial assistance at the circuit court level, but the case ultimately settled without an appeal. We also assisted the Cusumanos in appealing the DTE ‘Opt-Out’ Plan. We assisted some residents of the Muskegon area in mounting a 16 person appeal of the Consumers Energy ‘Opt-Out’ Plan. This was the case known as Rison et al. Our support won for them a preliminary ruling from the Court of Appeals that allowed the case to survive a Motion for Summary Dismissal. That in turn led to the group receiving a financial donation that enabled them to hire attorneys to finish the case. The case was ultimately joined to one brought by the Attorney General and the two joined cases resulted in a remand of the opt-out plan back to MPSC for a redo.

OUR REGULATORY WORK: In 2015 we intervened in DTE’s general rate case before the Michigan Public Service Commission. This case included a review of the details of the smart meter opt-out program as well as cost justification for the overall smart meter program in Michigan. As part of that case we brought in world renowned Dr. David Carpenter of the State University of New York to testify before the commission. That case is reported elsewhere on this website. Many of you contributed generously to cover the expenses of bringing Dr. Carpenter in.

OUR PLANS GOING FORWARD: Our focus right now is primarily on educating more citizens to demand of their elected representatives that they pass meter choice legislation, such as the current House Bill 4220, introduced by Energy Chairman Gary Glenn, with 16 co-sponsors, and supported on the Senate floor by Senator Patrick Colbeck who has launched a campaign to be Michigan’s next Governor. This educational campaign will require funds for intensive flyering in many districts, and for newspaper and radio ads. How successful we will be with this will depend very much on the generosity of our activists with this fund raising effort.

Other legal efforts are also under consideration, including:

(1) an appeal of a particularly egregious harassment by a Michigan utility of a woman whose very life was threatened by a forced installation of a digital meter. This is a case that could set a crucial precedent to help all those whose health is endangered by smart or digital meters.

(2) a possible Fourth Amendment, multi-plaintiff lawsuit in federal court to defend the rights of all Michigan utility customers who have been forced to take a smart meter or have their power turned off.

Again, how much we can do will depend on your generosity in donating to us at this time.

If you are angry at what DTE, Consumers Energy and their cronies in state offices are doing to Michigan utility customers, and you appreciate all that we are doing to fight these injustices, then PLEASE HELP US by donation or by volunteering your time!

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Analysis of the Michigan Court of Appeals Decision
May 24th, 2017

by David Sheldon*

(This case illustrates the difficulties of fighting a utility in court over smart meters, particularly when there is
perceived to be judicial bias in our courts in favor of
large corporations. It is presented at this time in view
of the recent decision of the U.S. Supreme Court not to hear this case and to underscore the necessity for our present efforts to secure legislation to protect utility customers.)

NATURE OF THE APPEAL: The defendant’s in this case, Ralph and Donna Stenman, having experienced some health symptoms from installation of a DTE smart meter, and concerned about further damage to their health and loss of privacy, strenuously objected to the installation of the smart meter, asking for return of their analog meter. When DTE ignored their pleas, the couple went ahead and replaced the smart meter with an analog meter they had purchased. DTE brought suit against them, asking the Oakland County Circuit Court for a “summary judgment” against the couple. A court can legally make a summary judgment when there are ‘no material issues of fact’ that might require a trial to resolve.

The Stenmans interviewed several attorneys and were unable to find one willing to take on DTE. Accordingly they represented themselves in the original proceeding. They requested a jury trial. Circuit Judge Rudy Nichols granted the summary judgment, so that the Stenmans were denied any kind of trial or opportunity to develop their defense. An appeal was taken to the Michigan Court of Appeals, File No 321203, over the fact they had been denied a trial. The Stenmans again filed their own appellate brief. A reply brief and oral argument were presented for them by attorney Robert Igrasin. The appeals court, judges Patrick M. Meter, Mark J. Cavanagh and Kurtis T. Wilder, issued an opinion and order in favor of DTE on July 14th, 2015 and awarded DTE its costs and decided to publish their decision, which is now in all the law libraries as a precedent for similar cases in the future.

(1) STENMAN ARGUMENT ON METER DEFINITION – DISMISSED:

The Opinion of the Court: “In the trial court and on appeal, defendants assert that a “meter” installed by a regulated public utility may only perform the functions that it is authorized by law to perform, arguing that the smart meter installed by plaintiff violated the “lawful definition of meter’ ” because it was capable of performing functions other than measuring electricity use. However, based on the plain language of the definition of “meter” in R 460.3102(g), there is no indication that electricity-measuring devices that have radio transmitters or other additional capabilities do not constitute “meters.” … The mere fact that the definition does not expressly state that a meter with a radio transmitter still constitutes a meter does not indicate that a meter with such a feature is not included under the definition. … Accordingly, we conclude that reasonable minds could not differ in finding that the smart meter installed by plaintiff qualified as a “meter.”7

Comment: The Court is saying, in effect, that the definition of ‘meter’ that is in the statute does not preclude the forced installation of any device by a monopoly utility so long as that device is called a ‘meter’ and actually does, among other things, measure electricity consumed. There is, therefore, potentially no limit on what could be forcibly installed on a private home.

(2) STENMAN ARGUMENT THAT SMART METERS WERE NEVER AUTHORIZED AS A CONDITION FOR RECEIVING ELECTRICAL SERVICE – DISMISSED:

The Opinion of the Court: “First, there was no genuine issue of material fact regarding whether the smart meter installed by plaintiff was lawful under the definition of “meter” applicable to the relevant administrative rules and tariff. Plaintiff is a public utility that is regulated by the MPSC. With regard to the regulation of public utilities, MCL 460.6(1) provides:

“The [MPSC] is vested with complete power and jurisdiction to regulate all public utilities in the state except a municipally owned utility, the owner of a renewable resource power production facility as provided in [MCL460.6d], and except as otherwise restricted by law. The [MPSC] is vested with the power and jurisdiction to regulate all rates, fares, fees, charges, services, rules, conditions of service, and all other matters pertaining to the formation, operation, or direction of public utilities. The [MPSC] is further granted the power and jurisdiction to hear and pass upon all matters pertaining to, necessary, or incident to the regulation of public utilities, including electric light and power companies, whether private, corporate, or cooperative . . . . [Emphasis added.]”

Comment: The court is arguing, in effect, that smart meters are legal as a mandatory condition for receiving electrical service because the MPSC made them so. But the panel in this case is conveniently ignoring a ruling of a different panel of the same appeals court, on February 19th, 2015, only five months earlier. In the earlier (unpublished) case, File No. 316728, consolidated appellants Kurtz, Edwards and Cusumano had argued that MPSC had erred in authorizing a type of smart meter “opt-out meter” that did not address public concerns about privacy and health. Appellants in that case had argued the MPSC had erred in authorizing this opt-out meter without allowing any evidence to be admitted concerning privacy and health issues. This was the court’s answer to that:

PSC has only the authority granted to it by statute. The PSC has broad authority to regulate rates for public utilities, but that authority does not include the power to make management decisions for utilities. … Apellants correctly point out that the PSC has no statutory authority to enable DTE to require all customers to accept an AMI meter, even if some customers choose to opt-out of the AMI program. However, no such statute exists because the decision regarding what type of equipment to deploy can only be described as a management prerogative.”

It seems to this writer that the Michigan Court of Appeals cannot have it both ways. If the earlier panel was correct that the MPSC had no jurisdiction over meter type and hence no obligation to allow evidence on privacy or health issues before approving DTE’s “opt-out” program, then the Stenman court cannot also be correct in ruling that DTE’s meter had been established as a lawful condition for receiving electrical service. Yet the Stenman court made no reference to the earlier decision, even though one of its judges had also been on the earlier panel. When one panel of the Michigan Court of Appeals overrules an earlier panel on an issue, there is a procedure for resolving the disagreement – a procedure not followed in this case.

(3) STENMAN OBJECTIONS BASED ON PRIVACY & HEALTH – DISMISSED:

Opinion of the Court: “Second, the trial court properly concluded that defendants failed to demonstrate a genuine issue of material fact as to whether their privacy and health-related concerns constituted valid affirmative defenses that excused or justified their actions related to the smart meter … In the trial court, defendants failed to provide any authority (emphasis added) in support of their claim that their privacy and health-related concerns constituted valid affirmative defenses to their violations of the relevant statutes, regulations, and tariff. … “

Comment: The Court is saying, in effect, that it is not enough for a home owner to present evidence that a utility’s actions are in fact endangering privacy or health, but that these defendants, who were without an attorney in the original court, must also cite prior court precedents where it had previously been established that privacy or health concerns could be a valid reason for opposing a utility installation. This despite the fact that the utility (plaintiff) had not cited any court precedent that privacy and health concerns were NOT a valid basis for objecting to an installation. Nor did this court cite any precedent to establish that privacy or health concerns were irrelevant to a utility installation. Where there is no precedent for a legal principle a case is generally termed a “case of first impression” and does call for analysis, but none was done by this court.

“Furthermore, even if we assume, arguendo, that defendants’ privacy or health-related concerns constitute valid defenses to their failure to comply with the relevant rules and tariff provisions, defendants failed to establish the factual bases of those defenses. “ The party asserting an affirmative defense has the burden of presenting evidence to support it.” …

“In support of their privacy defense, defendants proffered a report prepared by the National Institute of Standards and Technology entitled Guidelines for Smart Grid Cyber Security: Vol. 2, Privacy and the Smart Grid (NISTIR 7628) (August 2010). Even assuming that this report constituted admissible evidence, see MCR 2.116(G)(6), this document does not demonstrate that the smart meter installed on defendants’ property posed an actual risk to defendants’ privacy; the report generally discussed the possibility of privacy risks related to smart meters and provided recommendations for entities participating in a smart grid. …

“In support of their health-related defense, defendants provided the affidavit of Dr. Hillman, discussing the health of a three–year -old child not involved in the instant case. The affidavit does not establish that the smart meter installed at defendants’ home operated in a similar fashion, emitted the same level of “electricity [that] permeat[ed] the house,” or caused similar health effects , and thus fails to be competent evidence that the smart meter installed on defendants’ property posed a risk to defendants’ health. Again, considering the evidence that was before the trial court, we conclude that reasonable minds could not differ in holding that defendants failed to provide a factual basis for their privacy and health -related defenses and, as a result, failed to demonstrate that a genuine issue of material fact exists with regard to the viability of those defenses.

Comment: The court is saying that it is never enough to show proof that a thing has harmed others or is generally acknowledged by experts to cause a risk of harm wherever installed. The court is saying that the Stenmans must wait until their health has actually been damaged or their private information has actually been sold to third parties before they can legally object to an installation (of a device never authorized by any statute and never mandated as a condition of service by our own MPSC)

(4) STENMAN OBJECTIONS BASED ON FOURTH AMENDMENT – DISMISSED:

Opinion of the Court: “Finally, defendants argue that plaintiff’s installation of a smart meter on their home constituted a warrantless search in violation of the Fourth Amendment. We disagree. … The United States and Michigan Constitutions guarantee every person’s right to be free from unreasonable searches. US Const, Am IV; Const 1963, art 1, § 11. However, in order for Fourth Amendment protections to apply, the government must perform a search. “[T]he Fourth Amendment proscribes only government action and is not applicable to a search or seizure, even an unreasonable one, conducted by a private person not acting as an agent of the government or with the participation or knowledge of any government official.” … defendants have failed to establish that plaintiff’s installation of smart meters constitutes governmental action for Fourth Amendment purposes. Even if the state and federal governments have advocated or incentivized, as a matter of public policy, the use of smart meters, there is no indication that the government controls the operations of plaintiff, an investor-owned electric utility, or that plaintiff acts as an agent of the state or federal governments. Accordingly, we reject defendants’ claim that plaintiff’s installation of a smart meter violated their Fourth Amendment rights.”

Comment: There were ample citations in the Stenman case to situations where the government aided and abetted a private actor to commit an action later held to be a Fourth Amendment violation. In this case the federal government provided 50% of the initial funding for DTE smart meters and the MPSC mandated Michigan utilities to participate in a “Smart Meter Collaborative” to plan for the implementation of smart meters in Michigan. This court simply did not want to go there.

SUBSEQUENT ACTIONS: Application was made for the Stenmans by attorney Don Keskey to the Michigan Supreme Court to hear an appeal, and that application denied on March 8, 2016. Application was made, also by Don Keskey, to the U.S. Supreme Court for a Writ of Certiorari and denied by that court on May 4, 2017.

The legal brief filed by the Stenmans can be found HERE.

 The decision of the Michigan Court of Appeals on this case can be found HERE.

 The conflicting decision of the Michigan Court of Appeals on the earlier, Kurtz, Edwards and Cusumano consolidated appeals can be found HERE.

 CONCLUSION: In view of this case, other utility customers wishing to fight their utility in court over a smart meter installation will have a hard road to travel. That doesn’t mean it is impossible, but any future case will need to distinguish itself from this case by rigorous presentation of evidence with the first filing or first response or by the time of a first motion hearing. A case in which actual harm, and not only hypothetical harm, can be shown conclusively, would have a distinct advantage. All that happened in this case also illustrates the importance of securing a legislative solution, as many of us are attempting to do now with Michigan House Bill 4220, sponsored by Representative Gary Glenn with 17 cosponsors.

 Text of the Glenn bill as originally introduced can be found HERE. A subsequent admendment was approved in committee that excluded water utilities from the bill.

 ************************************

* David Sheldon is not an attorney but has represented himself successfully in both federal and state courts.

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MARCH 5TH, 2017 – The Michigan House Energy Committee will hold its second hearing Tuesday March 7th at 9 am, on House Bill 4220,energymtg2-02212017 proposed legislation that would assure utility customers (electric, gas and water) of a choice to have or keep their analog meters at a minimal fee or no fee if they self read.

please-attend-hearingPlease attend the second Analog Meter Choice hearing this coming Tuesday. If you want to present testimony, please come prepared to speak and fill out a card before start of meeting. Those who come to speak should dress professionally. However, since the hearing is only 90 minutes long, know that there may not be time for your testimony to be heard this Tuesday. More hearings may be scheduled in the future. You can always email your testimony to the members of the Energy Policy Committee before House Bill 4220 Analog Meter Choice legislation is voted on in Committee.  We don’t know when this vote will take place, but we will keep you posted.

INFORMATION FOR THOSE ATTENDING

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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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February 20th, 2017
by Lola Killey

We are nearing a moment in history that we have all been waiting for – hearings at the Michigan House of Representatives Energy Committee on an analog meter choice bill that could move the bill out of committee and onto the House Floor for a vote. The bill is HB 4220. The hearing is this coming Tuesday, February 21, at 9:00 AM in Lansing in the Anderson Building, 5th Floor. The positive momentum is due to the efforts of several of our legislators, legislative staff, and the legislative service bureau. In particular, we are very grateful to Representatives Glenn, Lucido, Howrylak, McCready, Barrett, Liberati, Zemke, Runestad, Hernandez, Allor, Kelly, Canfield, Noble, Hornberger, Hoitenga, Wentworth, Garrett and Robinson for supporting and sponsoring the bill. We are also grateful to Nancy Bareham, aide to Representative Kelly, for her hard work, and to Senator Colbeck for his support on the prior bill, HB 4916.

HB 4220 is the replacement of HB 4916. The text of HB 4220 is exactly the same as HB 4916. A new number was assigned to the bill because of the new committee being formed this year. Analog meter choice advocates have pushed hard to get an analog meter choice bill out of committee for years. The beginning of the bill states:

A UTILITY CUSTOMER MAY CHOOSE BETWEEN THE

PLACEMENT OR USE OF A TRADITIONAL METER OR AN ADVANCED METER REGARDLESS OF THE UTILITY THAT PROVIDES SERVICE TO THAT CUSTOMER.

Near the end, the bill states:

“TRADITIONAL METER” MEANS AN ANALOG OR SIMILAR METER THAT IS UNABLE TO TRANSMIT USAGE INFORMATION AND IS ONLY INTENDED TO BE READ BY AN INDIVIDUAL THROUGH A VISUAL DISPLAY. A TRADITIONAL METER IS NOT DESIGNED TO BE AND IS NOT CAPABLE OF TRANSMITTING USAGE DATA BY USING RADIO WAVES OR BROADBAND OVER POWER LINES, ALLOWING 2-WAY COMMUNICATION BETWEEN THE METER AND THE UTILITY OR ITS AGENTS, OR ALLOWING A UTILITY OR ITS AGENTS TO CONTROL A CUSTOMER’S THERMOSTAT, APPLIANCE, OR SERVICE. A TRADITIONAL METER DOES NOT INCLUDE AN ADVANCED METER THAT HAS CERTAIN FUNCTIONALITY TURNED OFF OR DEACTIVATED.

We interpret above sections together as giving utility customers the analog meter choice we want for the meters placed on our homes.

Please join us in the effort to get this bill passed. We need every voice to support this bill in its entirety at this moment in time. We cannot afford at this moment in time to pick and choose different language, or interpret it negatively. We need positive support, positive momentum, and a positive outcome. For that to happen, we need every voice to support our legislators and those who are helping them. Please call your representative and tell them that you support HB 4220, and either thank them for their support, or ask them to support it as well – 100%! THANK YOU!

 

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(Editor’s note: Rep Gary Glenn, sponsor of
the new bill is also now Chairman of the
House Energy Committee and promises
a hearing this session)

by Clayton Cummins, WILX News 10, Lansing
(full article linked below)

February 8th, 2017 – “There’s a move in the state legislature to get rid of fees that utilities charge to customers who want to keep their “old meters”.

This bill hasn’t been formally introduced just yet and Representative Gary Glenn (R-Midland) is working to get support for it.

… In addition to waiving the opt-out fees, the legislation would allow home owners to self-read their meter by just taking a picture of it and sending it in.

The utility could check the meter quarterly to confirm they’re not being misled.

Rep. Glenn tells News 10 the choice should be up to the home owner.”

“As long as those utilities are a state privilege monopoly given the right exclusively to deliver electricity, then we are going to protect homeowners from that kind of monopoly policy,” said Rep. Glenn. “Trying to force certain technology on homeowners against their will or if they refuse to have it installed, charge them.”   More

Link

by David Sheldon
Revised November 14th, 2016

November 13th, 2016 – On November 10th the Michigan Senate debated Senate Energy Bills 437 and 438, a pair of bills that have been urged by Michigan’s major utilities and our Governor for nearly two years now. The Senate waited until this lame duck session to pass unpopular legislation that would impose new requirements for renewable energy, change approval procedures for new plants, generally raise utility rates, usher in time-of-use pricing, allow for “revenue decoupling” and limit the availability of alternative energy providers to serve the 10% of the electric market they now serve.

The bill is premised on Obama EPA regulations forcing closure of existing coal-fired generating plants and ordering states to re-organize their electric power grid systems (which President-elect Trump has promised to repeal). It would essentially replace a market-driven process for new power plant capacity and site decisions with a centralized state process. Revenue decoupling is a regulatory standard under which, as customers use less electricity in response to higher prices or other incentives, the utilities are guaranteed that their total revenues will not be hurt.*

Before this disastrous bill passed, Senator Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, on November 10th introduced, on the floor of the Michigan Senate, his Amendment No. 4 to Senate Energy Bill 437. He sought to achieve by amendment something positive for Michigan energy customers. His floor speech outlined very effectively the case, based on homeowner property rights, that customers must be allowed a choice of meter type, in order to avoid having a device forced on them by the utilities. Property rights has always been implicit in the case we have been making these last 5 years for health rights and privacy rights, though we have not always stressed property rights as clearly as the Senator does here:

Unfortunately Colbeck’s amendment was defeated. This was done on a voice vote. The Senate that then went on to approve the two bills, 437 and 438, wanted by the utilities and our Governor. Senator Colbeck voted against passage of this energy legislation, as did quite a number of other Republican Senators. All but one Democratic Senator voted for the bills. An article discussing Sen Colbeck’s reasons for voting no on this bill can be found here. Check the voting of your Senator on SB 437 here, and on SB 438 here.

There will be an attempt made to introduce companion bills in the Michigan House – also in this lame duck session. Such legislation faces uncertain prospects. Please write your House rep and urge defeat of the energy package backed by the Governor.

We owe a vote of thanks also to Senator Colbeck for his letter to the Michigan Public Service Commission supporting meter choice and opposing some of the draconian shutoff rules being discussed there.

Although the Colbeck amendment failed this time, the fact that it was even raised on the Senate floor, and that we have House Bill 4916, are signs our issue is getting increased attention in Lansing. A new bill, to replace HB 4916, will have to be introduced in the House in the new legislative year. There are some indications the leadership of the House will likely be more favorable to us in the new year.

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you,
then they fight you,then you win.”

Mahatma Gandhi

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*For an analysis of what the new energy bills will do see the Free Press article here: