November 2nd, 2012 – Detroit Edison Responds to Appeal – On this day Detroit Edison filed its response to the Appeal filed against MPSC Judge’s Ruling. The stories about the original hearing and about the appeal directly follow. We welcome your comments, pro or con.
October 22nd, 2012 – Appeal Filed Against MPSC Judge’s Ruling – On this day three of our members appealed their unjust exclusion as interveners in a case that is very likely to decide not only the opt-out issue, but the whole future of ‘smart meters’ in Michigan. This is an update to the story originally reported under the October 16th date (below). This is the general rate case U-15768 that the Commission had to reopen to comply with a remand order of the Michigan Court of Appeals. That court ordered the MPSC to consider issues such as the risks and burdens of AMI, the experience with customer response in other states and to conduct a thorough evidentiary review. Yet we encountered an Administrative Law Judge, Teresa Sheets, who thought it just fine to narrow the scope of the proceeding to exclude many of the very issues MPSC had been ordered by the Appeals Court to consider. She also thought it just fine to declare “this is not a prehearing conference” even where the Commission’s Order said that it was. She further stated that all petitioners needed to have filed their petitions in 2009 – even though there never was any notice in 2009 that ‘AMI’ or ‘smart meter’ issues were to be part of the case. The appeal was filed by petitioners Sheldon, Dominic Cusumano and Linda Gula (Cusumano). The appeal will go first to the 3 member Commission and then, if necessary, to the Court of Appeals.
October 16th – Another MPSC Outrage! On this day our Michigan Public Service Commission began what was supposed to be compliance with an Order of the Michigan Court of Appeals from last April. The Court said their 2010 decision to allow Detroit Edison to charge back costs of smart meter program to customers was not properly supported by a record of evidence. The Court ordered a ‘full do over’ including consideration of the “risks and burdens” of smart meters, customer reactions, and experience in other states.
After months of foot dragging the Commission finally reopened the original case, U-15768, that had been started in 2009, and set up a scheduling conference for October 16th. Linda Kurtz, Dominic and Lillian Cusumano, and David Sheldon all submitted timely petitions the week before the scheduling conference with strong arguments as to why they should be admitted as interveners in the reopened case. They indicated that they would argue the health and privacy issues that had been totally ignored by the original parties to the case. These were issues well within the scope of what the appeals court ordered MPSC to address this time around. They argued that they were entitled to intervene in an old case at this late stage because the original notices of the case in 2009 had contained no mention of smart meter technology.
Administrative Law Judge Teresa Sheets summarily dismissed all of the above petitions to intervene on the flimsiest of rationales. She argued that the original public notice had been ‘appropriate’ since the words “AMI metering” had been mentioned in a footnote to line 27 in one of many exhibits to Detroit Edison’s original application for a rate increase. Therefore anyone with concerns about ‘smart meters’ had fair opportunity to intervene in 2009 and cannot seek to intervene now. This judge also declared that the reopened case would deal only with money issues and that questions of health and safety were entirely outside the scope of the reopened case. This administrative judge is clearly acting in defiance of our judicial branch court.
Those of us who petitioned to intervene plan to appeal the ruling of this judge – first to the Commission and then to the Michigan Court of Appeals should that become necessary.