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December 21st, 2017 – Senator Colbeck Calls for Electric Shut-Off Moratorium. Welcomes formal MPSC investigation.

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, said on Thursday that he welcomed the announcement of a formal investigation into the electric shut-off practices of DTE and called for a moratorium on such practices until the investigation was completed.

“In October our office began to see a big increase in the number of constituents contacting us and complaining about inappropriate shut-off notices and other problems that we reported to the MPSC,” Sen. Colbeck said. “As the months got colder those problems shockingly got worse instead of better. This formal investigation by the MPSC is going to clearly show that people were being threatened with shut-off notices they never should have received, resulting in turn with many of them then having their power inappropriately disconnected. In addition, getting power turned back on also took much longer than it is legally supposed to.

“This has gone beyond just minor billing snafus and has unacceptably created significant stress, hardship, and endangerment for hundreds of people whose simple wish is to pay their bills and receive electric service. Especially in Michigan where people can’t just change their utility provider when they’re treated like this, it is imperative that we hold both our utilities and our oversight 110 percent accountable.”

Now that the extent of the problem is being acknowledged, Sen. Colbeck also called for the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) to put a moratorium on DTE’s ability to shut off power to their residential customers until the investigation over the shut-off and billing problems has been completed. Power was wrongly cut for many reasons, but as an example, the investigation notice highlighted that at least 288 customers had their service improperly disconnected because of simple computer-related billing errors over the past six months.

“This investigation is still necessary, but it is already a forgone conclusion that DTE’s computer problems are causing people to have power cut because of internal communication problems within DTE that incorrectly put people at risk for being flagged for shut-off,” said Colbeck. “I’ve had people contact me one week saying they got an inappropriate shut-off notice, were assured the next week that it wouldn’t happen, and then a few days later they would call my office back because DTE had returned to their home threatening shut-off again.

“Until the investigation shows the exact steps that need to be taken to fix all of this, it would be prudent for the MPSC to, at the very least, have to pre-approve all residential shut-offs while this investigation is ongoing. A moratorium would be an even better course of action if simple billing errors that could affect anyone would result in shut-offs that jeopardize ratepayer health and personal safety during our cold winter months.”

Sen. Colbeck said while the main concern is for seniors, especially those who live by themselves, that in today’s high tech world a lack of power impacts everyone.

“Older individuals would be calling from the library asking for help because their VOIP phones would not work with the power off and they had no way to recharge their cell phones,” Sen. Colbeck said. “When they would try to contact DTE they could often only leave a message, but had no working phone for DTE to even call them back on. Those who could not rely on the help of neighbors were significantly impacted.

“But even younger families faced hardships beyond the cold. People’s computers would not work, and their kids were missing school assignments. Burglar alarms were down. Birthday parties and Thanksgiving plans were disrupted. Even for people who received notices but didn’t get shut off, they went through several stressful weeks waiting for the other shoe to drop and were oftentimes afraid to leave their homes unattended for fear of finding their power cut when they returned.”

Sen. Colbeck also highlighted that because the MPSC only knows what it is told that it is critical that people call the MPSC to lodge complaints. If people don’t call, the extent of the investigation will be understated. People should call 1.800.292.9555 for any complaint they have, even if the incident occurred several months ago.

Sen. Colbeck’s previous press release on the matter also drew attention to the fact that the MPSC currently does not formally ask the utilities to report why people have their electric power involuntarily shut off. Sen. Colbeck said he felt that would be an issue that would hamper the investigation and shows the need for changes in reporting.

“State administrative rules need to be rewritten so that something like this can’t happen again,” Sen. Colbeck said. “I believe that the current law requires more detailed reporting than what the utilities are now submitting to the MPSC, but in any event it is clear that the MPSC has the legal ability to now retroactively ask for those details as they conduct this investigation. For example, it has been extremely frustrating for me to see people getting their power turned off because they simply want to keep their analog meter, to then be told that it is a rare occurrence, but then be unable to get the actual data on how frequently it is happening.

“For a start we need to change the rules that allow for such meter-choice related shut-offs, that encourage lax reporting, and that allow utilities to take too long restoring power without experiencing any real ramifications.  Waiting a week to get power restored in the cold is simply too long, especially when the person shouldn’t even be getting their power cut in the first place.”

Sen. Colbeck said that the type of behavior being exemplified by the shut-offs shows why both utility choice and meter-choice urgently need to be reexamined.

“Until people can vote with their feet we’ll continue to see these problems,” Sen. Colbeck said. “People deserve the right to flee poor service when it jeopardizes their health and well-being.”

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Based on the YouTube presentation by
Josh del Sol
and Cal Washington
by Warren Woodward
October 14th, 2017

Please be aware that what I have to say is nothing personal against Josh del Sol or anyone else featured in the youtube. I have no personal grudges or axes to grind. But I do have a working BS detector.

Josh is a good filmmaker. Take Back Your Power was a great, fact-based tool for awakening people. But this one — and I will back this up with specifics — is propaganda. I would love for the theory it espouses to work, but I don’t think it will or has.

I am going to go through the YouTube InPower presentation now in the order that various things were presented.

The video gets off to a bad start when Cal Washington makes the point that one of the basic InPower premises is that, by switching to smart meters (SMs), the utility has changed the contract they have with you. That’s both right and wrong. Technically he is right because what they have installed is not a meter. It’s a transceiver and computer. I have made that point repeatedly here in AZ for years. I have proved it with an exploded conceptual rendering of a SM from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory that shows metering to be 1/5 of what a SM is. I have proved it by providing documentation that the IRS classifies smart meters as computers. I have proved it by providing the Congressional testimony of utility exec. Bennett Gaines saying SMs are computers. But guess what? In the “real” world, to the utility and PUC type people, it’s a meter. They won’t budge off that. If you accept service from the utility, you accept their equipment. Period.

Cal says that Kevin Lynch resigned on the day he got a Notice of Liability. This is supposed to be huge because Kevin holds the most senior non-political office in the gov. of Canada, Clerk of the Privy Council. Now this is something we will see throughout the YouTube: A news article is put on screen (11:17) and most of it is greyed out, with what Josh wants to emphasize lightened up and highlighted. But if you read the grey it says that “there has been much speculation in the civil service that he wanted out.” From my perspective, that’s a lot different than Cal’s exclamation at the end of the sequence that “He ran!” And again, this is something we will see a lot of in the YouTube: Drawing a false cause and effect relationship between Notices sent and people resigning or not seeking re-election. What we should be looking at is if policy changes, not if someone resigns or does not seek re-election.

Carol Taylor — Another person who resigned, supposedly because she received a Notice. But if you read the greyed out part the reason given is “So she can focus on her new job of chairing a federal economic advisory panel.” She has not been knocked out of the game. People like her make those kind of career moves all the time.

Cal talked about a judge he had running out of the courtroom. The bailiff (or sheriff or whoever was running the court) then says “All rise. I guess we’re having a break.” The problem is, Cal just leaves it at that. What happened after the break is not divulged. Outcome of the case not divulged. Maybe the Judge had a bathroom emergency. Who knows? One upshot was that Cal got arrested a year later, that he made sound as though it was some kind of revenge (and may well have been) for driving without insurance, and he spent 60 days in jail. Cal then talked about what happened after he got out and went to court again. Long story short, we are titillated with a $300M demand he put on the judge but the outcome of that is not divulged. It is left open ended. We don’t know what happened. And I don’t know about you, but I have better things to do than spend 60 days in jail. I’ve been there a couple times overnight. That was enough.

Kevin Falcon, is given as another example of someone who stepped down. What really happened in the greyed out bit is that he announced he was not going to seek re-election. As part of that announcement he did “step down” from some posts he held. But he did not quit altogether. The last line you can see on the screen is that his reason for not seeking re-election is “he and his wife are expecting.” Since the next line is not seen, I can only assume they are expecting a baby. What else would they be expecting together? A new car? Cancer? A Notice of Demand? I don’t think so. People resign all the time for family changes.

Next, examples of results of specific “seed groups” utilizing the Notice theory are presented.

Kelowna, BC action — The SM installer company CEO resigned on the day he got a Notice of Default, and Chair of the BC Utilities Commission who also got the same notices resigned. That sounds impressive but did SM policy change? No. Did the installation company fold up shop and stop installing SMs? No.

Seattle — same thing. People did not seek reelection and a couple of people resigned but did policy change? No. And BTW, people resign and don’t seek reelection all the time. Since I have been on the ACC’s case here in AZ (6 years), the ACC Executive Director resigned. 2 Utilities Division Directors have resigned. The so-called “Ethics Officer” resigned. Other various people there have resigned. Was that because they got Notice letters? No. Was that because I was such a relentless PITA? No. They resigned for a number of different reasons. A couple of them went to work for APS. Oh, and the Exec. Director of the AZ Dept. of Health Services, the guy who was in charge when the fraudulent SM health study they did came out, also resigned. Was that because I savaged his stupid SM study? No. Was it because he got a Notice? No. He moved on to a university teaching gig in Tucson. People do get sick of Phoenix. People do make career changes.

MI — AG Bill Shuette calls for free right of SM refusal after being sent the Notices. Total nonsense. Schuette has been hip to the SM scam since at least 2012! At the bottom of this email I reproduced the statement he issued in 2012.

About 4 people at the MI PUC are no longer listed at the website. Big deal! See my point above about the ACC resignations here. Happens all the time.

If you read the greyed out part, you can see that the Warren city attorney statement was taken out of context. Josh made it sound like he resigned and in so doing blew the whistle on DTE’s campaign donations. Campaign donations are a matter of public record. I look up APS’s all the time. It’s not major whistleblower stuff. The point the Warren city attorney was making (again, in grey) is that, for people who want to change SM policy there are steps that must be taken, and that some venues are appropriate and others aren’t. In his opinion for example, the Council can’t do it. Also, DTE is the beneficiary of a certain law which he cited and then, saying that the law could be changed, he mentions that would be hard because of DTE’s campaign donations. That’s not whistle blowing. It’s a statement of political reality. In short, the city attorney was being frank.

13 people have saved their analogs. That’s great, but for how long will that last? Were they given any guarantees? If they wrote Notices, where are the responses? Also, there’s a lot of people in MI who held on to their analog meters — until they didn’t. In other words, they were defiant and that worked for quite a while but eventually DTE came around to either cut them off or install a SM. If the 13 Josh mentioned still have their analogs a year or 2 from now, then I might be convinced.

NY — The speaker says he sent a $300M liability letter to not have a “smart” water meter and got a letter back saying “We’re sorry; you don’t have to have one.” But would he have gotten that letter anyway had he written something less shrill? The details of how to refuse a SM in his location are not provided. Were the meters mandatory? We don’t know.

Maui — This is another false cause and effect. The electric company switched from wanting to blanket the islands with “smart” meters to an “opt in” proposal. That was actually the result of the PUC rejecting the company’s huge proposed budget. The company had to make cuts. Blanket “smart” meter installation was one of them, but it remains a long term company goal. Also, that decision was made well before any Notice letters were sent out.

Lastly we get the voice of a “utility insider” who says that his utility has a “war room” dedicated to keeping track of SM resistance. Big deal. Of course they do! Josh is flattering himself if he thinks that’s the result of Notice letters being sent out. I am sure just about all the utilities have war rooms or at least have someone whose job it is to keep track of resistance. I know for a fact for example that APS has pictures of my meter cage. Does anyone think these companies just sit on their thumbs in the face of a threat like SM resistance of any kind? PG&E had VP “Ralph” infiltrate some anti-SM chat group years ago. In response to her request not to have a transmitting gas meter, someone I know actually got an email from UNS gas here telling her she’d been “brainwashed by Warren Woodward.” So of course these companies are keeping track of us, Notices or no Notices.

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Footnote: Opt-Out Provisions From MI A.G. Bill Schuette in 2012:

Given the questionable benefit of smart meter program to customers, as well as the extensive public concern about the effect and potential intrusiveness of smart meter infrastructure acknowledged in the Commission’s January 12, 2012 Order in this matter, the Commission appropriately directed Michigan’s electrical utilities deploying or proposing to deploy smart meters to provide information about their plans for allowing customers to opt out of having a smart meter, and how they intend to recover the cost of such an opt-out program.

The Attorney General respectfully submits that utility customers should be given a meaningful choice of whether to have smart meters installed and operated on their property. An “opt-out” program that requires those customers who opt out to pay an unwarranted economic penalty for doing so does not afford customers such a meaningful choice.

The information provided by Detroit Edison, and Consumers [Consumers Energy Company] in response to the Commission’s Order does not sufficiently establish that they intend to offer customers a fair choice of whether to accept smart meters on their property. Detroit Edison’s response on this subject is based upon the assertion that “Edison’s AMI [Advanced Meter Infrastructure] program is beneficial for all customers.” (Document No. 0148, p. 7). Proceeding from the unsubstantiated assertion, Detroit Edison apparently proposes to impose what it broadly describes as “all incremental costs” solely upon customers who choose not to accept installation of smart meters. (Document 0148, pp. 8-9). Consumers’ submission similarly states that while it proposes to provide customers with the option to retain their existing meter equipment, it apparently intends to subject customers making such a choice to additional charges, including charges for “maintaining ready testing and billing traditional meters”. (Document No. 0146, pp.16-17). While neither Detroit Edison nor Consumers provide details regarding their opt-out proposals and associated charges, both of their comments suggest that they intend to effectively penalize customers who choose to opt-out of smart meters. Presumably, under the utilities proposals, customers who opt-out of smart meters would be required to pay rates covering both the costs of the smart meter program, and expansively defined incremental costs “of retaining traditional meters. These proposals raise substantial questions as to whether their respective customers would, in fact, be afforded a fair and meaningful choice to “opt-out”.

Another argument which may be important for the Commission to consider is whether a financial incentive to homeowners who allow smart meters to be installed in their home might be an alternative approach to a rate increase if a homeowner refuses to permit a smart meter to be installed.

Respectively submitted, Bill Schuette
Attorney General

[From: ATTORNEY GENERAL’S COMMENTS PURSUANT TO THE MPSC ORDER DATED JANUARY 12, 2012 – http://efile.mpsc.state.mi.us/efile/docs/17000/0408.pdf]

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(Editor’s note: Rep Gary Glenn, sponsor of
the new bill is also now Chairman of the
House Energy Committee and promises
a hearing this session)

by Clayton Cummins, WILX News 10, Lansing
(full article linked below)

February 8th, 2017 – “There’s a move in the state legislature to get rid of fees that utilities charge to customers who want to keep their “old meters”.

This bill hasn’t been formally introduced just yet and Representative Gary Glenn (R-Midland) is working to get support for it.

… In addition to waiving the opt-out fees, the legislation would allow home owners to self-read their meter by just taking a picture of it and sending it in.

The utility could check the meter quarterly to confirm they’re not being misled.

Rep. Glenn tells News 10 the choice should be up to the home owner.”

“As long as those utilities are a state privilege monopoly given the right exclusively to deliver electricity, then we are going to protect homeowners from that kind of monopoly policy,” said Rep. Glenn. “Trying to force certain technology on homeowners against their will or if they refuse to have it installed, charge them.”   More

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Written by a northern Michigan resident to the
National Institute on Disability, Independent
Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR)

December 6th, 2016 – It’s been one year and now going into a second Northern Michigan winter that my disabled friend and her husband’s power has been cut off, not for late or non payment, but simply for refusing a digital utility meter installed on their home.  Four doctors have stated that her serious medical decline was the result of the digital electronic meter on their home.  She has documented tests before and after the digital meter was installed to prove it!  She was an EMT for 16 years and helped countless numbers of people.  Now, SHE needs help.

I travel 25 miles twice a week to bring her frozen containers of ice for her cooler so she can keep medication and food cold.  This is not the America I grew up in.  At times, she is in so much distress over her situation, she has even considered ending her life!  Even the United Nations states that no citizen should have to endure needless suffering.  We have contacted our state Representatives, Americans with Disabilities, Health and Human services and other agencies.  No one can seem to help her get her power restored with a doctor prescribed analog mechanical utility meter.  She pays her bills on time and has never had a dispute with the utility over non payment.  I feel she is being discriminated against.  People who have their power shut off and pay their overdue bill get their power turned back on.  Just because she refused a digital meter, her power remains off.  The power company refuses to even look at the letters from her doctors.

This is creating a financial burden on her and her husband.  They have had to take out a loan to purchase a generator, a wall furnace, and marine batteries which her husband charges to provide some light and power to run her medical devices within the house.  We are asking Health and Human Services to advocate in her behalf to get the Michigan Regulatory Commission to issue a waiver for medical shut offs, order power restored via an analog mechanical meter for ALL those currently without power, and to discontinue any further shut offs till this is sorted out.  One of our Senators added an amendment to a current energy bill to address this situation, but it was stripped out.  Dr. David Carpenter, a Harvard trained expert in environmental science gave sworn testimony to the Michigan Public Service Commission, stating that the highly spiked electromagnetic radiation from digital meters is a proven cause of serious illnesses.  Please help the citizens of this country who are suffering because of digital electronic utility meters.  Thank you.

John Kurczewski
5323 S Straits Hwy.  Apt 20
Indian River, Michigan, 49749

 

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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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Poisoning of Drinking Water, Schools and Homes
By David Sheldon

There is much in the news about the Flint Water Crisis and rightly so. But the countless individuals and families who have been forced to accept a cancer causing surveillance device in their homes are not being so reported by our major news media. Nor are those who, refusing such a glass of polluted drinking waterhome invasion, have had their electric service cutoff! Even senior citizens dependent on medical machinery! What do a water crisis, a school health crisis and utility crisis have in common? A Michigan Governor we fault, not on partisan grounds, but because of his repeated tendency to make dangerous decisions through surrogates while assuming no responsibility for consequences!

News media following the water crisis are constantly asking the question about our Governor “What did he know and when did he know it?” It seems clear now that he knew for many months that the people of Flint were being poisoned with bad water and did nothing to remedy the situation. At the same time the news media is much reporting the situation with Detroit Public Schools where children are routinely exposed to mold and rats. Both of these crisis scenarios are apparently the result of decisions made by Emergency Managers our Governor appointed to make decisions that arguably should have been made by others closer to the scene, or by others democratically elected.

But there is a third crisis-in-the-making not much reported by our mass media. That is the sickness, breach of privacy and utility shutoffs caused by the so called “smart” electric meter programs. Countless individualsLogo of Liz Barris website and paper and families have had their lives turned upside down. Some by questionable devices forcibly installed on their homes without their informed consent. Other families, who refused these devices, are enduring a severe Michigan winter without electric service. Both DTE and Consumers Energy are doing this with the complicity of the Michigan Public Service Commission, the regulatory body that is supposed to protect utility customers.

The Governor’s hand can be seen in this too as the MPSC consists of commissioners appointed by the Governor who quite apparently are taking their marching orders from the Governor and his hand picked Energy Czar, Valerie Brader. The MPSC will allow no hearing on any of the health or privacy violations of the new utility meters. The Governor’s energy policies are also being advanced by the Chairman of the House Energy Committee, Aric Nesbitt, who refuses to allow any hearing concerning the new utility meters or of any energy legislation not favored by the Governor.

Where is this third crisis-in-the-making taking us? Not only to unjust utility shutoffs but to a future of ruined lives – of people who can no longer live in their own homes and those who have or will contract cancer or neurological illnesses such as Parkinsons disease or dementia. There are 12 members of the Michigan House that have cosponsored legislation to stop this violation of human rights. We think this too will lead once more to the question about our Governor “What did he know and when did he know it?”

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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.