The Attitude of the Michigan Public Service Commission

The Michigan Public Utilities Commission (MPSC) has, until quite recently, maintained an attitude that “the meters are the property of the utility and they can do as they wish about meter replacements.”  Statements to this effect have been made (with a straight face) on multiple occasions by MPSC spokespeople in response to citizens.  The Commission has argued that they have jurisdiction only to regulate rates charged to customers.

Does anyone seriously think this is a correct or responsible position (or even an honest position) for the Commission to take? The MPSC was created by the legislature precisely in order to protect the public from the arbitrary power that a monopoly would otherwise have over their customers – not only over rates but all aspects of service.  The statute under which MPSC operates reads as follows:

“460.6 Public service commission; power and jurisdiction;
Sec. 6. (1) The public service commission is vested with complete power and jurisdiction to regulate all public utilities in the state except a municipally owned utility, the owner of a renewable resource power production facility as provided in section 6d, and except as otherwise restricted by law. The public service commission is vested with the power and jurisdiction to regulate all rates, fares, fees, charges, services, rules, conditions of service, and all other matters pertaining to the formation, operation, or direction of public utilities.”

Up until January 12th the Commission has taken a hands off approach and allowed the utilities to go forward with massive smart meter deployments. But the Commission also issued orders guaranteeing the utilities would be able to recoup the costs of these meters by passing the costs along to its customers.

This decision was originally supposed to happen only after an economic analysis of the costs v. benefits achieved in the pilot program in Grosse Isle and Harsen’s Island.  Yet the decision to proceed with mass deployment in Detroit and Oakland County was made without that cost-benefit study and over the objections of then Attorney General Mike Cox. 

All of this was allowed to go forward without the MPSC having conducted any investigation into the possible consequences to homeowner privacy, health or safety.  And now DTE reports that it has installed 650,000 meters already and will ultimately install about 2 million.

But on January 12th the Commission announced that it would open an investigation into whether these devices have bad consequences for the health, safety or privacy of utility customers, and whether or not opt-outs should be allowed.  At the same time the Commission hints that it may lack the jurisdiction and/or the expertise to actually order a remedy.  Also the Commission’s Order makes no provision for stopping the ongoing deployment pending the results of the investigation.

The Commission was, in fact, pushed into opening this investigation because of the overwhelming pressure from city governments which have, in city after city, either passed resolutions against the meters or outright bans.

We think continued public pressure, public meetings, more news coverage and many more actions by city governments will be needed in order to:

  • Get the Commission to admit that it does have jurisdiction to stop further deployments and that it can obtain any needed expertise by giving experts the opportunity to testify.
  • Get the Commission to order a moratorium on meter installs pending the outcome of its investigation
  • Assure that the final conclusions and any resulting Order will be based on the facts and not on political pressures.

If you share our outrage that things have come this far please:

  1. Speak during the public comments period in your city’s Council meeting.  Urge your Council to pass a resolution.
  2. Submit your comments to the MPSC referencing Case U-17000.
  3. Write letters to the editor of any newspapers that serve your area.
  4. Write your state representatives in Lansing.
  5. Talk up the issue in any community organization or church to which you may belong.
  6. Let us know of any significant developments so that we can report them on this website.  Send an email to : fdshel@yahoo.com.

10 thoughts on “The Attitude of the Michigan Public Service Commission

  1. After determining that the city is missing 500,000 in funds in the city of Bangor Mi. they have increased our water bill up almost 300%. I was paying about 32 dollars a month it jumped to 93 without any explanation from city hall. Would like to know what recourse I have.

    • Patrick, The Michigan Public Service Commission does not regulate city water departments. Your basic recourse is to go to a meeting of your city council and speak out about this issue. Try to get others to do this too. From what you say it does not sound like this is a smart meter issue.

  2. I spoke to Dte today to try to opt out. They said they will still put a smart meter in , charge me $70 buck to opt out and a $9 a month fee but the meter is still a newer smart meter. They ‘say’ they won’t turn on the wireless function. Help! What can I do

  3. i WAS RECENTLY INFORMED THAT I TOO WOULD BE GETTING A SMART METER INSTALLED BY CONSUMERS ENERGY. I WAS LOOKING INTO THIS WHEN I NOTICED A CONSUMERS CAR THAT HAD THESE METERS IN THE BACK OF HIS CAR AND WAS GOING HOUSE TO HOUSE TO INSTALL THEM. I HAD JUST READ ABOUT IF YOU DIDN’T WANT ONE INSTALLED TO PUT A NOTICE ON YOUR METER AND TAKE A PHOTO OF IT WITH A TIME STAMP. I DID THIS JUST IN TIME TO AVOID THE SWITCH. I HAD NOT HAD SUFFICIENT TIME TO LOOK INTO SO I WANTED TO MAKE SURE IT WAS SOMETHING I WAS GOING TO WANT. WELL I AM GLAD I DID THAT BECAUSE I DO NOT WANT ONE AND NOW I AM BING CHARGED 69.00 TO KEEP MY OLD ONE AND 9.72 A MONTH EXTRA TO HAVE SOMEONE READ IT. BUT MY NEIGHBORS WEREN’T SO LUCKY AND I DIDN’T HAVE TIME TO INFORM THEM BEFORE THEY MADE THE SWITCH OUT. MY NEIGHBOR ACCROSS THE STREET TOLD THEM HE DIDN’T WANT IT BUT THEY TOLD HIM IT WOULD COST HIM AN EXTRA 55.00 DOLLARS A MONTH ON TOP OF HIS ELECTRIC BILL SO THEY LIED TO HIM IN ORDER TO GET IT INSTALLED. NOW THEY WANT TO CHARGE WHO EVER WASN’T INFORMED 125.00 TO GET IT TAKEN OUT AND THE OLD ONE PUT BACK. WHERE DO THEY COME UP WITH THESE CHARGES IS BEYOND ME. I HAVE NOT SLEPT GOOD SINCE MY NEIGHBORS WENT IN EITHER. HOW CAN I PROTECT MY HOUSE FROM THEIR METER?

    • Connie – The best way to protect your home is to first demand removal of the smart meter by certified letter, and then, when they refuse, do it yourself. You can purchase an analog meter from the Hialeah Meter Company in Hialeah Florida for about $30 last time I checked. Many families have now replaced their own meters on my side of the state (DTE) and nobody has had their power turned off for doing that.

  4. 3% of the human population is affected by electromagnetic radiation, usually in a negative way. I am one of those people. Since this meter and the replacement meter have been activated I wake up nightly and abruptly for no apparent reason and have been recently diagnosed with border high blood pressure 150/80, no family history of blood pressure problems. I asked consumers power on Friday oct 11 2013 if they would send me the copies of the health impact studies of this radiation from the new meter and did I touch a sensitive nerve with the spokesperson. I was clearly told that the MPSC has that information. Of course the MPSC was unavailable by phone. I was told for some 200 dollars I could have a different meter installed, that too is digital which negatively affects me, in no uncertain terms I was told too bad so sad.

    • Johnny Joe, About the only thing you are likely to get from the MPSC is the report their staff submitted to the Commission on June 29th, 2012. In this heavily biased report they conclude there are no health issues worth talking about. Of course the report’s conclusions were a foregone conclusion as they are 100% cheerleaders for smart grid and their staff only considered industry sources in preparing their report. Here is the link to this disgraceful report if you want to bother reading it:
      http://efile.mpsc.state.mi.us/efile/docs/17000/0455.pdf
      What you really need to do is stand your ground. Consumers has been allowing some customers to keep (or get back) their old analog meters if they sign up for the opt-out program. There are substantial fees for this as I gather you have learned. If they will return your analog meter then this is the best option open to you. The other option is for you to purchase an analog meter on the internet (try Hialeah Company in Florida) for about $18. Then notify Consumers that you do not consent to pay opt-out fees and plan to replace the meter yourself unless they agree to do so within a reasonable time. This is the option to use when a utility refuses to let you keep or get back your analog meter. It may embroil you in legal trouble however.

  5. A Smart Meter was installed on my residence about 3 months ago. To my knowlege it was not activated immediatly. I was told that utility personel would read the meter for a couple of months before turning it on. I don’t know exactly when it was turned on, however, we have been having some unusual health issues, lack of ability to sleep, and problems with pets (dogs) that have become extreemly agitated, quivering, panting, and extreem restlessness until they can get outside away from whatever is happening with them inside the home. They have been checked out by the Vet and have no health issues otherwise. Some animals have the ability to sense the something is wrong even when we can’t. I have notified Consumers Energy that they have two weeks to remove the Smart meter and replace it with the old Analog style meter or I will remove it myself. They have no right under the law to impose any harmful device or produce any RF emmision into or throughout my home. I own the meter box housing and all wireing from the supply source into and throughout my home. If they will not remove it voluntarily I will remove it and supply my own Analog meter.

    • It is our understanding that Consumers will replace a smart meter with an analog meter if you so request. We don’t know how quickly they would do this however. Your intent to do it yourself is entirely appropriate if they take more than 2 weeks to do it. They have violated your rights by installing a health damaging surveillance device on your property without your consent. Please update us when the matter is resolved.

    • Hi Robert could you please update? I have been have agressive discussions with DTE and the MPSC. I have been looking into legal advice for replacement of my own meter as you mentioned. So you or anyone have information regarding this?

      Thanks

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s