January 16th, 2013 – Two days of smart meter cross examinations completed today. Nine intervenors attempted with limited successes to cross-examine Robert Sitkauskas, representing Detroit Edison and Steven McLean of the Michigan Public Service Commission. These two witnesses had earlier submitted direct testimony in support of a plan where people unwilling to have any kind of smart meter on their home could pay thousands of dollars over a ten year period to have a smart meter with the radio turned off. The proposal under discussion was outrageous on its face in that it did not address either the health or the privacy concerns of Michigan utility customers. But nobody was allowed to talk about that.
The intervenors, mostly inexperienced in conducting such examinations, were constantly having their attempted questions correctly stricken by the administrative judge because they contained “narrative” elements. But their greatest difficulty lay in unjust limitations on the scope of the hearing that excluded all discussion concerning the type of opt out meters to be offered or whether people paying the proposed opt-out fees would, in fact, be getting anything in return for the fees paid.
Some totally unexpected last minute help was finally received from the Attorney General’s office on the question of whether a $61 one time charge for turning the radios off was warranted. This help was unexpected because the Attorney General’s representative had not objected the week before when nearly all of the intervenors direct testimony was unjustly thrown out as beyond the scope of the case.
The next step in this case is for all parties to submit briefs by February 12th and reply briefs by February 26th. The Administrative Law Judge is scheduled to present a Proposal for Decision to the Commission by March 29th.