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Nanci Rose Gerler
Pinckney, Michigan

January 29, 2018

All Members of Michigan State House of Representatives, Energy Policy Committee

RE: Energy Committee hearing of January 30, 2018 and MPSC Case U-18486 Investigation into DTE Shut-Offs

Dear Energy Policy Committee Member,

In your investigation into violation of shut-off protocols by DTE: The scope and breadth of audacious mendacity, cruelty and brutality by a corporate monopoly turned tyranny, will spawn a “me, too” response far greater than the Flint Water Crisis and Larry Nasser scandals. For the beleaguered customers subject to their atrocities, there has been no satisfactory response or recourse from DTE nor the MPSC, whose “service to the public” is illusory. Complaints and entreaties to the corporation yield no results, only perpetuation of the standardized lies they portray as “truth” through repetition. The MPSC serves as defenders and enablers of DTE, echoing the programmed responses provided to them to the degree that MPSC staff sound exactly like DTE employees.

The MPSC has diffused and refused legitimate complaints of outrageous and egregious actions against consumers with responses like “We regulate rates, not business practices”. Personal and anecdotal experiences recount unjustified and retaliatory behaviors by DTE more often associated with organized crime syndicates and fascist governments than “standard business policies”.

Customers who object to the installation of the misnamed smart meters for many of the justifiable reasons (such as threats to health, safety of home and property, privacy, security, accuracy, and excessive costs) are subject to heinous treatment. The experiences of residents of the Glennbrook Beach Association (GBA), located in the Pinckney Recreation Area in northwest Washtenaw County, illustrates the extreme measures DTE has used to suppress opposition.  Upon notification in July 2016 of the forthcoming AMI installation, over three quarters of the forty homeowners sent a polite certified letter to DTE, requesting to retain their analog meters (as allowed by Consumers Energy). The majority of homes in this small private lakeside enclave are seasonal summer homes or cottages with some structures almost one hundred years old, which are surrounded by a land conservancy and state land. Generations of families have lived here and the majority of residents are elderly retirees on a fixed income, who wished to retain the pristine nature of their long time community environment, without the interference and issues of a wireless mesh network.

A standard form letter sent by DTE was the only reply. Residents posted legal notices, and in some cases locked meters as the only prevention to unwanted installation. In early 2017, DTE cut off locks to six homes and installed AMI meters with no notification to the residents. Phone calls of protest to DTE were ignored. On July 24, 2017 everything changed, when the GBA was subject to a military style tactical operation by DTE, deploying a convoy of ten DTE, contractor and private security vehicles to storm the private community. Power was cut at the pole to over a dozen homes of customers paid current, most of whom had received no communication from DTE since the aforementioned form letter almost a year prior. This orchestrated maneuver was staged and documented with photographs by rude and intimidating workers who thrust letters into hands or onto homes – the first notification of shut-off most residents had received. All this occurred while over 80,000 regional DTE customers still awaited power restoration after a high wind-event the previous night. This indicates a gross misallocation of resources and priorities.

Residents were shocked and traumatized by the callous cruelty of the workers who took obvious delight in cutting power, water and sanitary capacities. (GBA is on a well and electrical grinder sewer system). Scrambling to restore power, residents faced excruciating long waits on the phone (often 1.5 to 3 hours). All affected residents ordered the ‘opt out’ meter but many were informed that ‘opt outs’ were “out of stock, back ordered, unavailable for 3 to 4 weeks”, or it was “too late and they had to accept a ‘smart meter’ to have service”. However, when the DTE installer arrived the next day, he had both standard and ‘opt out’ meters for orders placed, and acknowledged that ‘opt out’ meters are ‘smart meters’ with the radio turned off  – which could be programmed on-site or remotely.

DTE’s rationale for the illegal power shut-offs was that “locking devices on meters posed health and safety hazards to the customers and neighbors”. The DTE installer proceeded to affix tamper proof locks on utility boxes (homeowner property) accessible only by DTE. This refutes DTE’s justification as spurious while imposing genuine health, safety and sanitation hazards on hapless residents without electricity, water & sewer for 2 to 8 days.

DTE’s ‘shock and awe’ strong-arm tactics forced the remainder of the residents into compliance, to avoid unwanted and unwarranted shut-off. The use of “hired goons and hired guns” (contractors and security) is never justified, especially when no aspect of the five-step process for standard shut-off protocol was adhered to.

To add insult and injury, within six days of installation my ‘opt-out’ meter was intentionally re-programmed to operate as a radio transmitting ‘smart meter’. As an extremely electro-hypersensitive individual, I experienced immediate negative health symptoms, which alerted me to the change. A neighbor confirmed that she had seen a DTE vehicle on the property the day prior (a Sunday afternoon), when there were no new orders pending. DTE did not change the meter out for six weeks, during which time both myself and my cat were debilitated by serious illness and symptoms caused by the transmitting meter. My cat’s vomiting ceased as soon as the meter was replaced with a new ‘opt-out’ meter, but he had lost one third of his normal body weight. I also lost weight due to constant nausea and sleeplessness, and it took months to recover from symptoms.

Another resident’s ‘opt out’ meter was fully defective, never registering a kilowatt since installation. This resulted in extremely high estimated bills that bore no relation to years of usage history. Hours of phone calls and emails yielded nothing but frustration and aggravation, with threat of service shut-off for non-payment of inaccurate, bloated bogus bills. He was charged $9.99 in advance for a service call to diagnose the defect. After several calls and several days, the installer did not show up for several scheduled appointments. When he finally arrived he did not have the diagnostic device necessary and simply switched to a new meter. The billing situation was unresolved by the time the seasonal resident left, because of DTE’s “continuing computer billing issues”. Immense time and energy was expended over a defective meter that was unwanted and unneeded, since such problems had not occurred with his long time analog meters.

None of the initial customers who were refused ‘opt-outs’ received them. Others who called to order them were forced to leave a message with no subsequent response or follow up. Residents have concluded that DTE is the worst company they have ever dealt with, yet have no recourse due to the state imposed monopoly. This situation allows DTE to exploit, abuse, and extricate unjustified monies from their captive customers – as exemplified by the extortionary fees charged for the ‘opt-out’ meters. Customers have the right to read and report their own meters but must pay to have them read by contractors who drive their own vehicles, and whose meager compensation in no way justifies the $9.80 monthly fee.

As long-standing paying customers who denied consent to install a new meter, we were subjected to bullying, intimidation, trickery, harassment, trespassing, destruction of property, and unjustified shut-off. Since ‘smart meter’ installation, other residents and their companion animals have experienced debilitating health effects – one dog and two cats have subsequently died.

DTE must be held responsible and accountable for their numerous transgressions against the paying public, who deserve redress and remuneration for the difficulties caused by the improper shut-offs, which constitute abuse by the utility. The report recently submitted to your committee by DTE is a work of fiction created by these masters of mendacity, and must be independently investigated and verified. As a former Ann Arbor resident who has dealt with DTE over these issues since 2012, I can attest that they lie and deceive with consistency, ie “that’s my story and I am sticking to it”.

The abusive conduct endemic to DTE necessitates the passing of bill 4220 to provide analog meter choice and protect the rights, health, safety and financial well being of DTE’s customer base (never a priority to DTE). Governed by greed and need for excessive profits, their $30 billion net worth allows them deep pockets to influence media, MPSC and politicians. The threatening and intimidating non-protocol shut-off letters (received after the fact), referred customers to call a phone number – which is the hot line to report energy theft tampering or fraud – falsely implying wrong-doing on the part of the customer.

Please use the power vested in you by the people to censure and penalize DTE, and compensate injured parties. Grant the freedom of meter choice to the citizens that elected you by representing their interests, over those of the self-serving monopoly utility corporations.

Respectfully submitted,

Nanci Rose Gerler

 

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DECEMBER 16TH, 2017 – WE STILL NEED HELP!!!  Two months 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!

click to Donate

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October 5th, 2017 – Warren Woodward Wins Smart Meter Battle at Arizona Court of AppealsUnanimous decision by COA opens the way for public disclosure of corruption by the Arizona utility commission (ACC) and the Arizona Dept of Public Health. The two state agencies had conspired together to publish a false report alleging no health problems with smart meters. Mr. Woodward used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain documents showing such conspiracy. Heavily redacted documents were provided to him by the two agencies. He took both agencies to court to force disclosure of the redacted material. A trial court judge gave him the unredacted documents but placed a gag order on his public disclosure of same. The Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that the gag order was improper and that Woodward is now free to publicly disclose the unredacted documents. The case was remanded back to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with the appeals court decision.

This case shows what can be accomplished by a determined and disciplined individual who persists and persists. The value to our smart meter resistance movement is that the Arizona public will now learn that no honest health study was ever done and that an attempt to fake such a study was made instead. This will undermine public confidence in the whole smart meter program.

Click here for account in the Arizona Capitol Times.

Click here for the Appeals Court opinion and decision.

 

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from the Ad Hoc Smart Meter Bill Drafting Committee

Dear Smart Meter Activist,

Michigan_state_capitolAttached is the culmination of untold hours of intense effort, careful thought, research, collaboration,  and numerous revisions  over an almost two month period.  The primary writers of the bill were passionate activists, highly motivated to draft legislation that would guarantee our health, safety and privacy would be secured by giving everyone the right to choose to have, or not to have, a dangerous, life threatening surveillance device installed upon their living or working quarters.

The bill’s title simply, directly and clearly states its singular purpose:

“Utility Meter Freedom of Choice Amendment” (to Michigan Public Act 3 of 1939).

Attached are two versions:  one for the State House of Representatives and one for the State Senate. It’s the same bill with different captions.  Be sure to send the correct bill to your lawmakers.

This bill was drafted for all smart meter activists and their organizations, as well as all legislators: local, county, state and federal. Not only did we activists have a common goal before the bill was drafted, but we now have a document unlike any other that puts our legislative demand into words.

Please share freely with all parties of interest.

We need to bombard our state legislators with requests to bring this bill up for passage.

 Points to consider for presentation:

  1.  Call their office.  Ask to speak to the legislator.  If unavailable, explain to the staff member that you will be Emailing him/her a bill that you want introduced or co-sponsored if it’s already been introduced. Ask the legislator or staff if they are familiar with the issue.
  2. If yes, ask if they will champion the bill and help move it through committee and bring it up for passage.
  3. If no, give them a general statement as to its purpose and that in addition to sending the bill you will be sending information that will explain the necessity for its passage. (see some ideas below)
  4. Ask for them to get back with you after they have read the bill and looked at the information to let you know where they stand on the issue.
  5. If you don’t hear from them in a week call back and let them know that you would like to know what their position is.
  1.  You might ask if you could set up a meeting to make a presentation.  Have documents, websites, videos and other activist friends available.
  2. The more of us who contact the legislators, even if it’s the same legislator, the greater our impact will be.

Not everyone is expected to use the same method for persuading their legislators.   In fact it’s far better that we each use our own individual ingenuity for turning this bill into law, with the above points as a guide.

We could not have a more highly qualified group of well-informed, passionate activists, all very capable of presenting the need to pass this legislation.  The bill is intended to be rallying point around which we can all now focus our attention as it will unite us as one mass movement to secure our rights.

Please distribute the bill widely and spread the word that we will persist until we once again secure the blessings of life, privacy, liberty, safety, health, property rights  and freedom.

In tribute to all our thousands of smart meter activists,

David Lonier, Chairman,
Ad Hoc Smart Meter Bill Drafting Committee

David Sheldon, Dan Childs, Linda Kurtz, Richard Meltzer

Here are the bills (House and Senate versions. Download these .pdf files to your own hard drive, then attach to email you send your legislative rep, after first contacting him or her by phone)

Utility Meter Freedom of Choice Bill, House
Utility Meter Freedom of Choice Bill, Senate

Ideas for information to share with your legislators:

Websites (if links don’t work in your browser, copy and paste the actual web address into your browser, deleting the quotation marks)

Michigan Stop Smart Meters   (or)
“michiganstopsmartmeters.com”

Smart Meter Education Network (or)
“smartmetereducationnetwork.com”

Warriors for the American Revolution (or)
“www.w4ar.com/smart-meter-home-page.html”

One if By Land (or)
“oneifbyland.org/Smart-Meters.html”

 

4 ½ Minute Introduction to Smart Meters by Jerry Day

And whatever else you may wish to include, based on the tons of health, safety and privacy info. related to smart meters.

 

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January 14th, 2014: Yesterday about 15 of us attended oral arguments on the DTE ‘opt-out’ program before a 3-judge panel of the Michigan Court of Appeals. We have two appeals before the Court. Cynthia Edwards, LindaHall of Justice - large front view Kurtz and Leslie -Panzica-Gloppa, who are represented by attorney Kurt Koehler, filed the first. The second was filed by Dominic and Lillian Cusumano, representing themselves.

The judges listened passively to prepared statements first by Mr. Koehler, followed by the MPSC attorney and then the DTE attorney. The MPSC attorney spouted all the usual stuff we have seen from them in the past, including quite a number of blatantly false statements. A typical falsehood was that the issues of health and privacy, which they had refused to consider in the opt-out case, had somehow been decided by an earlier case. Another falsehood was that interveners in this case, who sought to raise these issues only as they related to the adequacy of the opt-out meter, were trying to introduce evidence on these points as related to the wisdom of the entire smart grid in Michigan.

The DTE attorney was new to the case and did not seem entirely up to speed on the facts. He stumbled more than once over pronunciation of the name of DTE’s star witness. Finally Mr. Koehler was given a few minutes to rebut, but apparently there wasn’t time enough to rebut all the falsehoods the Court had heard. Almost no questions were asked by the judges, or none, at any rate, that would provide any clue as to which way the judges were leaning. There was no presentation by the Cusumanos who had not requested oral argument.

The passivity of the judges we don’t feel should be taken as any reflection on their opinion of our appeals as we sat through hearings on 4 other cases before ours and they were the same way on all the cases.

At the end the presiding judge indicated that our cases were “submitted” for decision by the Court. Our understanding is that the Court’s decision will likely be mailed to us within 2-3 weeks, though there is nothing definite about that.

If the Court overturns the DTE’ opt-out’ plan, they will most likely remand it back to the Public Service Commission for a do-over with some specific instructions as to what they found lacking in the original hearing that must now be remedied.

For more detail on the issues in these twin appeals please see our earlier article: https://michiganstopsmartmeters.com/2015/01/04/appeals-of-dte-smart-meter-plan-will-be-heard/

 

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Stopping Federal AbusesSmart Meters Are Only One Example of Federal Abuses!
by Vigilant Dave

(photo at right courtesy of ratch0013 at freedigitalphotos.net)

Michigan Stop Smart Meters is non-partisan. We do not endorse political parties or candidates for office. In order to build the broadest possible coalition, we do not usually get involved in issues other than smart meters. But we have seen so many examples of a growing federal tyranny in this country, of violation of our rights as citizens, of unconstitutional acts of our government, that it is impossible to remain silent about the overall trend of these matters.

Our federal government now boldly asserts the right to spy on ALL the communications of ALL of us, and to lock any of us up indefinitely without charges or a trial. Can it be any great surprise then that they now also assert the right to spy on us in our homes, to control our appliances and even to make many of us sick in the process? There is a pattern to all this. What we are learning is that elections make no difference to the long run trends. We are learning that, all too often, people spend thousands of dollars fighting injustices in courts, only to have their lawsuits thrown out by system loyal judges on the flimsiest of pretexts. We are learning that powerful interests really control this country and NOT the leaders we thought we were putting in power with the last election.

Smart meters are just one facet of this. This is a federal program with our federal tax dollars being used, in effect, to bribe utility companies and state regulators. The rights of individual utility customers are being trashed. Legislators, Attorney Generals and courts are choosing to maintain the “system” rather than to defend the citizens. Happily there are a few exceptions now and then as when the Michigan House Oversight Committee, under the leadership of now retired Rep. Tom McMillin, held a four hour hearing where most of us got a chance to voice our protests on the smart meter issue. Still, we have to wonder what will come of that hearing. After all, McMillin’s committee heard our grievances only after the House Energy and Technology Committee refused to do so. Is there going to be any desire in the new legislative term to follow through with a meaningful new law? Or is it going to be business as usual with our elected state lawmakers being manipulated by powerful corporations and by an all-powerful federal government?

More and more we are going to have to see the broader picture of which smart meters are only one part. We are going to have to find the will, the courage and the means to challenge a federal government that is out of control. We can’t do that by “voting the bums out”. We have seen over and over that doesn’t work. We only get new bums. And we have seen over and over that the federal court system does not check federal abuses.

Is there an answer? We think there is, and we can do no better than to recommend the work of the Tenth Amendment Center and heartily endorse their program for taking back our country:

 A Ten-Step Program for Constitutional Recovery
http://tenthamendmentcenter.com/2014/12/31/a-ten-step-program-for-constitutional-recovery/

 

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corruption graphicDecember 18, 2014 – Michigan Stop Smart Meters expresses its support for much of what was said in a recent editorial “Standing Up to the Sleaze and Rot That Kills” posted by stopsmartmeters.org in California.

(image courtesy of hin255 at freedigitalphotos.net

While there are parts of that editorial that promote a world view with which we do not agree, below are quotes from that piece with which we particularly DO agree:

“The attack on public health and safety and the highway robbery the smart grid represents is not the result of some “misunderstanding” or “lack of information.”

“All of this is intentional and it will only stop when the criminals behind the program are forced to stop.  If a PUC commissioner suddenly woke up and realized the truth and started to actively challenge the system, the system would have them removed.  No question.  Commissioners are vetted carefully for any hint of rebellion before they are appointed.”

“Activists trying (in many cases valiantly and at great personal and financial sacrifice) have seen how fruitless it is to try and get one government agency to censure another, when the stakes are as high as a trillion dollar industry driving the global economy.”

What are the alternatives?  Are we doomed to submit comments to be ignored at the PUC and accept the consequences of smart grid proliferation?  Spend thousands of dollars on lawsuits just to be tossed out of court by corrupt, system-loyal judges?”

“Watch as our friends and families and perhaps ourselves get sick and die of cancer?  As our homes burn down at 3am and the utility blames the wiring?  As we are disconnected one by one from essential services because we refuse to agree to pay not to be harmed?”

“What we need is a resistance movement that protects environmental health and safety by whatever means necessary.   A group of committed individuals who will stand up against state power and refuse to back down- no matter what- in the face of injustice.  Yes we need the intelligent, well-informed critiques of current policy to spread awareness and provide fodder for those willing to take the time to analyze the truth (and lies) behind these industry documents.  But intellectual debate and discussion- or even active awareness raising campaigns- are not going to win it alone.”

What then do we do?  Your comments please.