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OCTOBER 22ND, 2017 – WE STILL NEED HELP!!!  A month ago we made an appeal for donations to cover our ongoing costs for flyering, educational efforts and possible newspaper ads. A few of you contributed generously and we appreciate that. But we need more of you to step up and help with this – by donation or by volunteering.

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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(Updated May 29th, 2017)

May 27th, 2017 – An Opportunity to Show Support for Chairman Glenn’s Efforts to Move Michigan Toward a Freer Energy Environment – We strongly encourage all smart meter activists who can to attend the hearing of the Michigan House Energy Committee on Tuesday May 30th at 9 am in the Anderson House Office Building, Room 519, at 124 North Capitol Avenue, Lansing. There is a parking ramp 2 blocks north of the Anderson building on Capitol Avenue.

Chairman Gary Glenn has arranged for two of the leading proponents of replacing some of the regulation with more competition in the energy markets. This program should be quite different from some of the industry and state government people who have testified up to now.

Smart meters are just one example of what happens when there is too much monopoly power. Utilities in Michigan are forcing us to take these unwanted meters while at the same time charging us some of the highest rates in the midwest and providing less reliability and fewer choices.

The experts Glenn is bringing in can provide competent testimony about what happens when utility customers have more choices:

Todd Snitchler is former Chair of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO). He was first appointed in 2011 by Governor John Kasich and served on that commission until 2014. He is now a practicing attorney. Under Snitchler’s leadership Ohio made major progress in moving its utility industry away from a highly regulated model toward more competition and innovation. A scholarly article discussing utility deregulation in that state with many citations to his contributions can be found here:

http://cua6.urban.csuohio.edu/publications/center/center_for_economic_development/ElectricityMarketsInOhio

Dr. Gary L. Wolfram, an adjunct scholar at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, is a Professor of Economics at Hillsdale College. In 2015 he released his new study Improving Michigan’s Electric Utility Industry. In the study, Wolfram highlights inefficiencies in Michigan’s regulated energy sector and recommends that legislative action is needed to control costs, reduce pollution and improve outcomes. A discussion of his work may be found here:

http://www.micef.org/press/2015/9/17/hillsdale-economist-gary-wolfram-releases-energy-study-improving-michigans-electric-utility-industry-released-today

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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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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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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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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!