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by David Sheldon

August 27th, 2017 – New Petition Aimed at Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette Asks Him to Enforce Existing Laws Against ‘Smart’ Meters.

We are calling on all of you who have issues with smart meters – whether it be for privacy violations, health violations or reckless disregard for our safety from lightning and fires – to join our NEW PETITION TO MICHIGAN ATTORNEY GENERAL BILL SCHUETTE. He is our state’s chief law enforcer and he has so far ignored the Fourth Amendment violations, Michigan’s own felony surveillance statute, and a state law mandating that utilities deliver safe energy. He has stood idly by while senior citizens have their electricity shut off for resisting this new technology – even when they have doctor’s letters and their very lives are placed at risk.

This man is reportedly planning to run in the Republican primary as the party’s next candidate for Governor. Let’s let him know he won’t have our support if he continues to fiddle while Michiganders suffer!

Here is the petition, started by John Kurczewski: Click Here

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Movie Producer Offers False Hope to Thousands
by David Sheldon
Revised August 8th, 2017

Most of us were very impressed with the quality of the film ‘Take Back Your Power’ by Josh del Sol. It has been effective in motivating people whenever it has had a showing. This movie producer undoubtedly has a talent for dramatizing the smart meter issue.

In December of 2014 Mr. del Sol came to speak following a showing of his film at the Royal Oak Art Theater. He and an associate, Cal Washington, used this time for an illustrated presentation in some detail, of a process for (supposedly) stopping utilities from installing smart meters. Documents to be used were presented on the big screen and discussed in some detail. In these documents, liberally punctuated by biblical references, there was much about holding individual utility executives and politicians personally liable financially by using merchant law, and sending them a series of letters which would ‘notify them of their liability’.  At the end of this meeting some 20 or so individuals were persuaded to attend a follow-up meeting for the purpose of putting the process to work in their own situations.

Now Mr. Del Sol has sent out an email indicating his intention to go nationwide and perhaps even worldwide with this process. He has also setup a web site where he is soliciting funds to support his activities. He indicates the process has been tested with three “seed groups”. Apparently the Michigan group he formed in 2014 is one of those three seed groups.

There is a problem with all this: the process does not work. Despite my own visibility in the smart meter choice movement through this website and in many other ways, I have not heard from even one of the 20 people in that Michigan seed group stating that, after following del Sol’s process, they were successful in keeping a smart meter off their home.

The process is inherently flawed because it is based on the assumption that officials can be forced to deal with us on our terms and become individually liable just because we assert in letters that they are individually liable. The process also assumes that one can form a binding contract with officials by making an offer which they refuse or neglect to answer. Contract law does not work that way. A valid contract requires an offer and an acceptance. Ignoring an offer does not constitute acceptance. And for the process to mean anything there would have to be some real concern by the officials that courts would, in fact, hold them personally liable for their actions.

There is a problem with that as well. From what we have seen so far, the courts here in Michigan are not about to rule against the utilities no matter what arguments are presented to them. We have had four cases now reach the Michigan Court of Appeals. Issues such as property rights, privacy, health, the Fourth Amendment, the Fifth Amendment (takings clause) and Michigan’s own felony surveillance law, and others have been argued with thorough support from the Constitution, the statutes and case law. But the appeals court has ignored all of that and ruled against us at every turn. We have seen similar disregard of the law in some other states and in the federal court system.

Smart meters are clearly a world wide threat, being forced on people in every industrialized country. This, despite the fact these meters are not “green” but actually increase overall energy usage and add to the amount of carbon dioxide being produced. There is clearly an agenda in play, emanating from policy makers at the international level, through our federal government to our state government. Policy makers at the federal and state level are driving the agenda, essentially bribing utilities by creating vast opportunities for the utilities and the technology companies that supply them to participate in this bonanza. And our judges are not going to get in the way of that agenda. Perhaps they have been bribed or warned of consequences to themselves if they side with us.

All that said, there may still be opportunities for individuals whose very lives have been placed in jeopardy to obtain limited relief from our courts – providing they seek remedies that only carve out very narrow exceptions to the program, leaving the overall agenda intact.

Now if our courts are not going to uphold the Fourth Amendment, or the Fifth Amendment, or Michigan’s own felony surveillance law because of an agenda from on high, then why on earth would they enforce merchant law when it conflicts with the same agenda? It makes no sense whatever. The officials who are supposed to be scared straight by the various documents and letters in this process will simply laugh at them.

I believe it is important for me to publish an article exposing this process, which is akin to the Emperor’s Clothes in the old fable, because I believe that otherwise many in our Michigan smart meter resistance movement will be tempted to sign on, invest heavily of their time, and make donations to a process that is not going to help them in their individual situations and certainly not help our movement.

Why is Mr. del Sol promoting a process that he must know does not and cannot work? Who can say? His intentions may be the best but perhaps he has been misled in some way.

Our focus as a movement now needs to be on getting meter choice legislation passed. Those who can afford to make a donation or do volunteer work should be directing their time and money to help the various Michigan groups that are working toward that goal.

Those groups are:

Smart Meter Education Network                           smartmetereducationnetwork.com

Michigan Stop Smart Meters                                  michiganstopsmartmeters.com

Analog Meter Choice                                              analogmeterchoice@gmail.com

Utility Meter Choice 4 Michigan                           mysmartmeterdoeswhat.com

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Things are moving fast now!
Your presence is needed!

(Extensive revisions made 2/18/17)

Tuesday February 21st and Tuesday March 7th, 2017 are the hearing dates in Lansing! (Date of 2nd hearing corrected!) Last week we reported on the newly formed House Energy Policy Committee under the chairmanship of Rep Gary Glenn. This week Chairman Glenn re-introduced a meter choice bill nearly identical to last year’s bill but under the new number of HB 4220. He has issued a press release announcing two hearings on this proposed legislation, both to take place at 9 am. These will be public hearings where anyone can fill out a card and address the Committee.

We need, first of all, a big turnout so the Committee and the House recognize that a lot of people are affected by this issue. The hearing will last 1-1/2 hours and will be videotaped by House TV. The second hearing on March 7th will give us another 1-1/2 hours.

We need to make sure that key issues are well covered. This bill is being proposed, and will be sold to the legislature primarily on grounds of property rights and privacy, though health issues and risk of fires will also be in focus. The utilities will doubtless have representatives there who will cite experts and conclusions supposedly reached by these experts. To counter that we need to cite experts and present evidence as well as our opinions.

We recognize that a hearing at 9 am on a weekday may be harder for some to attend than the hearing two years ago that started around 5 pm. But please get there if at all possible. If you resisted a smart meter installation because of well-founded privacy concerns, the Committee needs to hear that. That is a thread that needs to run through many of our comments. And if you have a story to tell about how your power was shutoff or your health suffered because of a meter, they need to hear that. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking come anyway! Your presence will help convince wavering legislators! If you will speak, plan to come early and sign up to speak before the start of the meeting!

Hard copy exhibits may also be submitted to the Committee Clerk. If you make a written submission at the hearing, be sure to bring 25 copies so the clerk can distribute to all committee members! For those of you who can’t make the hearing, written exhibits may be submitted to the clerk of the committee: kgawronski@house.mi.gov

The hearings will be in Room 519 of the Anderson House Office Building at 124 North Capitol Avenue. Again, if you care about meter choice, we need you to be there!

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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By James F. Tracy
(Link to original article on Memory Hole website)

Over the past several years a conspiracy of silence has surrounded the implementation of the Smart Grid across the United States, perhaps with Smart grid cartoon imagegood reason. If the public was aware of what lay behind this agenda there would likely be considerable outcry and resistance.

“Smart meters”–the principal nodes of the Smart Grid network–are being installed on homes and businesses by power utilities across the United States under the legal and fiscal direction of the United States government. In December 2007 both houses of the US Congress passed and President George W. Bush signed into law the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA).

This 310-page piece of legislation employs the dubious science of anthropogenic CO2-based climate change science to mandate an array of policies, such as fuel efficiency standards for vehicles and “green” energy initiatives. Tucked away in the final pages of this law is the description and de facto mandate for national implementation of the Smart Grid that the Bush administration promised …  More

Editor’s note: We have been battling smart meters in Michigan for 4 years now – in the courts, before the Public Service Commission and now in the legislature. To the best of our knowledge, Channel 4 in Detroit (WDIV), has never run a story about there being any problem or controversy surrounding smart meters.

Related Story: ‘Media Blackout on Smart Meter Dangers’ Wins Project Censored Award    More

 

 

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A Message from the Ad Hoc Committee for Smart Meter Legislation

THIS FALL A NEW SMART METER BILL
WILL BE INTRODUCED TO PROTECT THE
RIGHT OF CHOICE FOR ALL UTILITY CUSTOMERS!

We need to make an all out effort NOW to
reach all members of the House Energy Committee!

It is a new day now for smart meter legislation. We have more support for such a law now than we ever had before. To win this fight, it is critical that Lower Peninsula Overviewwe persuade as many of the House Energy Committee members as possible. If enough are convinced of the necessity of such a law, a hearing will be scheduled on the law that has been drafted by some representatives who are on our side! After such a hearing will come a vote of the Committee to report the proposed law out to the full House with a recommendation that it be passed there or not. Later, of course, we will have to introduce a companion bill on the Senate side and follow that bill through a hearing and, hopefully, a favorable report out of the bill to the full Senate.

We desperately need volunteers! We need people who care enough about this issue to spend a day going into one or more of the districts of the 25 reps who are on that Energy Committee. You will find above a map of the lower peninsula of this state with all the district locations marked. Most of these districts are within a few hours driving distance. Find a friend to go with you and make a day of it!

We have three different flyers linked here:

Flyer No. 1                             Flyer No. 2                             Flyer No. 3

Each of these flyers has a reverse side that is different according to what districts you plan to work. Contact Dave Lonier (248) 373-9111, or Dave Sheldon (248) 604-7545 and we will send you a flyer customized to your district(s).

If you would like to do this as part of an organized group emaill Linda Kurtz at smartmetereducationnetwork@gmail.com

Once in district, the task will be to find a highly trafficked location, which could be a supermarket, library or post office, and hand out flyers. Those who receive the flyer will be asked to phone their state House representative and tell him or her that they don’t want a smart meter on their home AND ask that rep to back a new smart meter bill soon to be introduced.

PLEASE CONTACT DAVID LONIER (248) 373-9111. Let him know which district you will be working and he will coordinate to avoid duplicated efforts.

Click here to reach web page where we have detailed maps and a complete list of House Energy Committee members,and their contact information.

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Analysis by David Sheldon
(July 19th, 2015)

On July 15th, 2015, a decision was handed down by the Michigan Court of Appeals that, if not appealed, will severely constrain the rights of all Michigan utility customers. This article is written, in part, as a response to an inaccurate and misleading article published a few days ago on another smart meter website. Sadly that article unfairly characterized the efforts of a couple to defend themselves against utility bullying and implied that, if only they had hired a good lawyer, the outcome would have been different.

We know there are thousands of you, in southeastern Michigan alone, who have resisted the forced installation of a “smart” electric meter. Many of you have locked your meter enclosures or otherwise limited access by utility installers bent on replacing your traditional meters.

Thousands of others who have the new smart meters are now suffering serious health effects that limit them in the use and enjoyment of their homes. The universal experience has been that, once a smart meter is installed, the utility will not remove it for any reason. At least 20 families that we know of have found it necessary to resort to self help in order to rid themselves of an intrusive and life limiting device.

Such was the case for Ralph and Donna Stenman of Farmington Hills. In early 2012, after pleading with DTE to remove a smart meter that was making Donna ill, the couple finally resorted to removing the offending device themselves and replacing it with an industry standard calibrated analog meter. The smart meter itself was in no way tampered with. It was simply removed from the meter housing (owned by the homeowner) and safely returned to DTE.

The utility objected that the meter the couple installed was not an approved device. The couple responded that DTE was welcome to replace it at any time with an analog meter of their own specifications. The utility responded with threats and repeated attempts to re-install the smart meter. The Stenmans believed they had no choice but to notify the utility that any access to their meter would have to be by appointment only and under supervised conditions. The result was that DTE sued the Stenmans seeking, among other things, an injunction that would command the couple to allow DTE installers to enter upon their property for the purpose of re-installing the smart meter.

The lawsuit was heard by Oakland Circuit Judge Rudy Nichols in the fall of 2012. The couple wound up representing themselves after approaching a number of attorneys who refused to take the case, stating either that it was hopeless to go up against a utility or that DTE would bankrupt them if they took the case. A preliminary hearing was scheduled with DTE asking for a summary judgment.

In preparation for that hearing much research was done on the law to determine what sort of evidence the couple would need. Michigan Stop Smart Meters provided assistance. The couple filed a formal response to the suit, explaining why the smart meter had to be removed, and providing an affidavit from a doctor that an identical smart meter installed on another home had caused severe illness. Also presented was a government document explaining how these meters would invade privacy and that they should be installed only with consent of the homeowner. The couple fully expected that this preliminary evidence would be enough that the judge would schedule a trial. Instead, in December of 2012, the judge granted DTE a summary judgment with no opportunity for the couple to present any further evidence.

Judge Nichols stated in his decision that the Stenmans had not met their burden to present evidence showing that, if a trial were held, they had a reasonable chance to prevail. Yet another Oakland Circuit Judge had heard an identical lawsuit by DTE against another couple a month earlier, been presented with the identical evidence, and found that evidence sufficient to warrant scheduling a trial. Judge Nichols also ignored the fact that DTE had not presented any evidence that their smart device had ever been authorized by either the legislature or the Michigan Public Service Commission. The law is clear that a summary judgment is only legal when there are no material facts in controversy. The law is also clear that any ambiguity in the factual situation must be resolved in favor of the non moving party – in this case the Stenmans. Judge Nichols decision was clearly contrary to law.

An appeal was filed. The Stenmans filed their appeal brief without benefit of an attorney. The wheels of justice turn slowly. It took from December of 2012 until June of 2015 for oral argument to be scheduled. The Stenmans finally found an attorney to represent them at the oral argument. Some of you had the opportunity to hear that.

On July 15th a decision was finally issued that upheld Judge Nichols’ decision in all respects and provided no relief to the Stenmans. In reaching this conclusion the Court of Appeals found that:

  1. That even though the burden of proving the necessary elements of a complaint always (by law) falls on the plaintiff, that burden can be cast, when convenient, upon the defendant.
  2. That, although DTE had never presented any evidence, or even an assertion, that their smart meters were lawful, these meters were nonetheless lawful.
  3. That, even though the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) had no jurisdiction to tell a privately owned utility what kind of meters to use(*), the MPSC nevertheless had the authority to authorize the new smart meters, and the utility could rely on that authority to force installation of the new meters.
  4. That, even though a private utility is required to have its rules and conditions of service approved by the MPSC, and no such approval had actually been given for the utility to make smart meters a condition of service, that the utility could, nonetheless, mandate smart meters.
  5. That, even though the MPSC has consistently refused to hold any evidentiary hearings on the possible health dangers of smart meters, they were entitled to conclude, as a matter of law, that health effects of smart meters are negligible.
  6. That, even though the “opt-out” plan offered by DTE allows nobody to avoid having a smart meter and was not even an available plan when the Stenmans resorted to self help, this plan is cited as one of the reasons Judge Nichols was justified in his ruling.
  7. That even though there is no practical alternative to DTE service for most people in southeastern Michigan, nonetheless being a DTE customer is “voluntary”.
  8. That even though evidence was provided the court that an identical smart meter had made a child severely ill, this did not constitute evidence that it might endanger the lives of an elderly couple.
  9. That even though the issue of the “opt-out” plan being an opt-out in name only was fully discussed in the Stenmans’ original pleadings before Judge Nichols, the Court of Appeals finds that this issue was not raised in the trial court.
  10. That, although the Stenmans provided an official publication of the U.S. government in which the National Institute for Standards and Technology concluded that smart meters will violate the privacy of homeowners wherever they are installed, the Court of Appeals finds that such concerns with privacy are merely “conjectural and hypothetical”, and that there has been no showing of “actual or imminent harm”. Therefore the Stenmans “have no standing” to raise the Fourth Amendment issue.

Whether one reaches this point fully represented by an attorney or reaches it through one’s own efforts makes little difference in the end.

What we see in this Appeals Court decision is not respect for or observance of law. What we see is a politically motivated decision based on the idea that nothing should get in the way of the smart grid agenda. Or that nothing should get in the way of powerful interest groups.

This is not to say that our legal system is hopeless or that we shouldn’t try to defend our rights through lawful means. Not every panel of the Court of Appeals will be as unreasonable as this one, and not every trial judge will be as unreasonable as Judge Nichols.

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* Another panel of this same Court of Appeals so ruled in March, 2015 in the case of Cusumano v. MPSC.

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TWO MORE SMART METER APPEALS
MAY ANSWER THE QUESTION

by David Sheldon
May 31st, 2015

Early in 2015 the Michigan Court of Appeals (MCOA) handed smart meter resisters what can only be regarded as two major setbacks, denying nearly all claims against the DTE “opt-out” plan and the Consumers Energy Justice icons“opt-out” plan. We have analyzed these decisions in earlier articles on this site. Suffice it to say we think that, in the DTE case at least, it is very clear that the three judge panel hearing that case did not follow existing case law and chose instead to make new law to suit the needs of the smart grid political agenda.

Image above courtesy of digitalart.

Early in June we have oral arguments for two more smart meter appeal cases. Since different panels of judges will hear these cases we remain hopeful that we will finally see a just outcome. We are hopeful that this time the Court will finally rule according to the statutes and the existing body of case law. We encourage all of you who can to attend. We would like to pack the courtroom for both of these events. Location details and maps for both events, including parking information, can be found at this link: http://courts.mi.gov/Courts/COA/clerksoffice/Pages/Locations.aspx

 Stenman Appeal
Oral argument Tuesday June 9th at 10 am
Detroit branch of MCOA
3020 West Grand Boulevard
Suite 14-300

Sheldon Appeal
(Two errors corrected below)
Oral argument Wednesday June 10th at 11 am
Lansing branch of MCOA
Hall of Justice
925 West Ottawa Street
2nd Floor

 (1) Stenman Appeal: This case is unique among our cases in that it is the first appeal to be heard of a case that originated in a circuit court. All our other appeals have been cases that originated in the Public Service Commission. The Court of Appeals has much more latitude when reviewing a circuit court case than it does when reviewing the actions of an administrative agency.

For those of you who have changed your own meter, or have a plan to do so or have suffered a disconnection of service, this case is particularly relevant. If this appeal goes well we may finally have a way to stop DTE from forced installations all over their service territory!

Early in 2012 Ralph and Donna Stenman, of Farmington Hills, pleaded with DTE to remove a smart meter that had caused health problems for Donna, who is a cancer survivor, and was concerned, not only for her immediate symptoms, but also because the World Health Organization had rated in 2012 the type of microwave radiation that cellphones and smart meters produce “a possible carcinogen”. Their pleas to DTE were also based on a smart meter being a hazard for Ralph because the atrial fibrillation in his heart, put him at risk for blood clots and a stroke. The cause of Afib, per WebMD.com, is “rapid, disorganized electrical signals”. Smart meters put out very brief but high energy pulses about every 15 seconds that cause many people to experience irregular heartbeats.

Pleas were first made by letters to DTE – to no avail. In March of 2012, following a method that had been encouraged by Jerry Day and using a modified version of his suggested form, the couple sent DTE a document titled “Affidavit Notice and Demand for Removal of all “Smart Meters”, radiation emitting and surveillance devices.” The document stated that if DTE would not remove the smart meter within 21 days, the couple would do so, replacing it with a “safe and legally compliant meter, rated and calibrated to common metering standards”.

Upon refusal of DTE to remove the offending meter the couple found it necessary to take that action themselves. A licensed electrician was engaged for the job, readings of the smart and analog replacement meter were duly recorded and the smart meter safely shipped back to DTE. The utility responded first with threats and intimidation. Then a letter indicating that power would be disconnected, but ultimately sued the Stenmans instead in the Oakland Circuit Court. Attempts were made to find an attorney for their defense, but every attorney contacted stated that if he took on the case DTE would bankrupt him.

Ultimately the Stenmans found it necessary to represent themselves in court. Michigan Stop Smart Meters was pleased to arrange some assistance for them in the drafting of needed documents. In the fall of 2012 the case was heard by Circuit Judge Rudy Nichols.

The essence of the case was a demand for a “Partial Summary Judgment” which would include an injunction forcing the Stenmans to allow DTE employees back on their property to reinstall a smart meter. The injunction was to be permanent but the judgment would be considered partial only in the sense that a DTE claim against Stenmans for money damages would remain open to possibly be determined by a trial later.

A “Summary Judgment” is a judgment made without allowing for any trial or evidentiary hearing. There are long established legal principles that allow for this type of judgment when there are no material factual issues in controversy and the judgment can be rendered purely as a matter of law, based on facts agreed to by both sides.

We agree with the Stenmans that there were facts that had been explicitly placed in controversy that should render Judge Nichols decision contrary to law. They are:

  • Whether a “smart meter” is actually a lawful device that conforms to the definition of meter in the statute and in the regulations.
  • Whether the “digital meter” then being offered as an alternative would be any more lawful than the smart meter.
  • Whether either a smart or digital meter would threaten the Stenmans privacy. Preliminary evidence was offered in the form of a document authored by the National Institute for Science and Technology (NIST) to establish that smart meters are a threat to customer privacy and that they should only be installed on request of the customer.
  • Whether either a smart or digital meter would threaten the Stenman health. Preliminary evidence was offered in the form of an affidavit from Dr. Donald Hillman, retired MSU professor, relating the story of a little girl whose health had been severely compromised by the installation of a DTE smart meter.

Judge Nichols, in his Order of November 11th 2012, stated that the Hillman affidavit was irrelevant because it described what happened to another family, not what happened to the Stenmans. He ignored the other three arguments entirely, granted DTE’s motion for partial summary judgment and ordered the Stenmans to permit DTE employees to enter their property for the purpose of reinstalling a smart meter.

We agree with the Stenmans that Judge Nichols order was outrageous.

An appeal was filed. Again this had to be done with the Stenmans representing themselves as no attorney could be found willing to take on DTE. Again Michigan Stop Smart Meters was able to arrange some needed assistance in the preparation of an appeal brief and the drafting of other documents.

By agreement of both sides Judge Nichols put a stay on his order pending a decision by the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) regarding an “opt-out tariff” proposed by DTE where the only “opt-out meter” to be provided was a smart meter with one of its two transmitters turned off. In May of 2013 the MPSC approved DTE’s proposal that opt-out customers must pay an initial fee and monthly fees and receive only a “non-transmitting meter”.

Following this DTE moved to have the stay lifted. This might have made the installation of a smart meter follow in short order. Stenmans argued that there was an appeal of the opt-out plan before the Michigan Court of Appeals and other appeals also pending. They brought in letters from their doctors to establish the harm a smart meter would cause them. Mr. Stenmans cardiologist provided a signed letter stating that installation of a smart meter “could lead to a bad outcome” for Mr. Stenman. They brought in evidence that DTE had accommodated other families in their neighborhood with analog meters. Yet Judge Nichols lifted the stay.

As it happened DTE did not enforce the court order. We suspect the company was more interested in the legal precedent this case established than in actually getting a smart meter installed.

As the time for oral argument began to draw near the Stenmans were finally able to find an attorney to file a reply brief and take on the job of oral argument.

Those interested in more details on this case will find the most important documents and briefs here: https://michiganstopsmartmeters.com/the-stenman-case/

It has taken nearly two years, including an initial period where both sides filed briefs, for this appeal to reach the stage where oral argument will be heard.

Please come and show, not only your support for the Stenmans, but your support for the principle that nobody should be forced to have a health damaging surveillance device on their home. Pack the courtroom in downtown Detroit on Tuesday, June 9th.

(2) Sheldon Appeal: This case, while originating in the MPSC, is also unique in that it is the first case in which the Court of Appeals (MCOA) is being asked to hold the MPSC in contempt of court for failing to carry out a previous order of MCOA. It is also the only case to reach MCOA where the overall funding of smart meters in DTE’s service territory is called into question.

This is the case for those of you who have been appalled that the MPSC, without ever holding an evidentiary hearing on the privacy or health implications, would give DTE permission to charge back the costs of 2.4 million smart meters to its customers!

Some of you may recall that in April of 2012 the Court of Appeals issued a decision remanding the case that allowed this funding back to the MPSC for a redo. That appeal had been brought by ABATE (an association of large business users of electricity) and by then Attorney General Cox. In the remand order to the MPSC the court directed as follows:

“… we remand this matter for the PSC to conduct a full hearing on the AMI program, during which it shall consider, among other relevant matters, evidence related to the benefits, usefulness, and potential burdens of the AMI, specific information gleaned from pilot phases of the program regarding costs, operations, and customer response and impact, an assessment of similar programs initiated here or in other states, risks associated with AMI, and projected effects on rates. In other words, a real record, with solid evidence, should support whatever decision the PSC makes upon remand. “ (Emphasis added)

This order went beyond what the appellants had asked of the court. Does it sound like the Court of Appeals was instructing the MPSC to just consider the rates that utility customers would have to pay to fund smart meters? Incredibly that is all the MPSC did, in complete defiance of the court’s order. Not only that but four smart meter resisters who wanted to participate as interveners in the reopened case were denied that right – mainly on the basis that we wanted to raise issues having to do with the risks of AMI technology which the administrative judge said were “beyond the scope” of the remand proceeding. I was one of those who tried to participate and was shut out. The others were Linda Kurtz and Dominic and Lillian Cusumano. Three of us then protested the decision of the administrative judge to the Commission and were denied again.

On October 17th 2013 the Commission issued its final decision in the reopened case. To nobody’s surprise they only re-justified the decision they had made the first time around. With no new kinds of evidence being allowed, how could the outcome be any different the second time? Michigan’s current Attorney General Bill Schuette did not appeal this decision nor did ABATE.

On November 16th 2013 David Sheldon did appeal that MPSC decision. He asked the appeals court to find that MPSC should be held in contempt of court for failing to carry out the court’s previous order, and that the case should again be sent back to MPSC for another redo – but this time allowing for the scope of the case to include the health, privacy and safety issues, and allowing new interveners to join the case and introduce evidence concerning the issues that had previously been neglected.

The issues that will be argued in this case are:

  • That it was wrong of MPSC to limit the scope of the case to just determining the amount of cost recovery for DTE on this investment and thereby denying the opportunity for anyone to introduce evidence regarding health, privacy and safety issues.
  • That it was wrong for MPSC to exclude the very interveners in the remanded case who would raise the issues the Court of Appeals required MPSC to address.
  • That even if the MPSC’s authority be limited to setting rates (as some have argued) the Commission could still have used that rate setting authority to deny rate recovery of smart meter costs after a finding that the technology harms the customers and the public. Denial of rate recovery would almost certainly have meant no smart meter program in Michigan.
  • Moreover the MPSC had jurisdiction from the legislature to directly order DTE to correct health and privacy abuses when acting in response to written complaints. And there were written complaints from 35 city and county governments and from over 400 utility customers.

As with the Stenman case, it has taken nearly two years, including the time for filing briefs, for this case to reach the stage of oral argument.

Please come and show your support for a case that seeks to have MPSC “held in contempt” for its dereliction of duty in approving the entire smart meter program without hearing the evidence. Pack the courtroom in Lansing on Wednesday June 10th.