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This is a letter to the editor of the Detroit News expressing support for a story the News ran and a rebuttal to Mr. Robert Sitkauskas, Manager of DTE’s smart meter program.  The News declined to publish the letter.

On April 12th the Detroit News ran a story titled “Judge: DTE rate increases improper”.  In that story the News stated “The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that the Michigan Public Service Commission should not have permitted DTE Energy to raise rates to fund the program and that the utility failed to show the program provided any benefit to customers.”

 In response to that story, Mr. Robert Sitkauskas, Manager of DTE’s Advanced Metering Program, wrote a letter to the editor titled “Advanced meters are the future”. In his letter there is the assertion that “The Court of Appeals did not reject the costs or say they were improper …”

This letter is written in defense of the original story and in rebuttal to the letter from DTE.

Let’s get real, Mr. Sitkauskas.  The Court did not immediately order these costs to be refunded to utility customers, as the News story pointed out, but the Court did say the decision to allow these costs was improper, as urged by the Attorney General, because it was based on no solid showing that the benefits to customers could possibly justify the costs.  The Court ordered the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) to conduct the kind of thorough cost-benefit analysis that it said should have been conducted back in 2010.  The Commission has yet to announce whether it will appeal this Court Order or will instead conduct the kind of analysis the Court has deemed necessary.

Mr. Sitkauskas also complains that the News provided “a small – but very vocal minority of individuals … the opportunity to express their views – without checking the accuracy of their claims.”.  The News reporter interviewed, for this story, quite a number of persons on both sides of the controversy and was well aware that nearly every city government that has vetted the complaints against the ‘smart’ meter program has wound up siding, not with DTE, but with those raising the complaints and has, in turn, urged the Commission to immediately halt further installations of these meters until the complaints about lost privacy and health problems can be properly studied.  The reporter was also provided, through our website, dozens of articles by recognized international health authorities that could be considered a check on the accuracy of the complaints.

When the Commission called for public comments about the program almost nobody posted a comment extolling the benefits they were experiencing, but over 400 posted angry letters against the new meters.  Where is the evidence that the public has accepted this program?

The decision of the Michigan Public Service Commission in 2010 that allowed DTE’s meter program to go forward has now been rebuked from every side– from practically every individual utility customer who has become informed about the issue, by 19 city governments, by both the present Attorney General and previous Attorney General Mike Cox, and by the Court of Appeals.  The product which DTE is installing has been severely criticized by nearly every health expert not in the pay of the utility industry.

So, Mr. Sitkauskas, don’t tell us your new meters are the future.  Tell us instead that you and your company are willing to wait until the American people decide if this is the kind of future they want for themselves and their children.

David Sheldon