Utility customers in Michigan would have the option of choosing between a new “smart” meter and existing traditional equipment to measure their home energy usage under legislation introduced last Thursday by Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Midland, and Rep. Rose Mary Robinson, D-Detroit.
The bill would put into force an opinion by Attorney General Bill Schuette that the utility companies lack the authority to charge fees to customers that opt out of an advanced metering program, which was dismissed this past week by the Michigan Public Service Commission.
“Attorney General Schuette is rightly concerned for Michigan residents’ privacy and security on the smart meter issue, and I appreciate his leadership to protect the people of our state,” Rep. Glenn said. “I am happy to sponsor House Bill 4916 to overturn the Public Service Commission’s rejection of his position so that electric customers can choose a metering option that they are comfortable with and want.”
Electric companies are transitioning to the advanced, or “smart,” meters to capture and transmit usage information in real-time so the utility can reportedly better manage the power grid needs and delivery. The smart meter initiative has raised cyber-security concerns, as well as issues about customers’ private information, prompting Rep. Glenn’s solution to provide a choice.
“Smart meter data provides a remarkably intimate picture of a home’s electrical usage, and we’ve seen examples of this data shared, sold, and mishandled,” said Rep. Glenn, vice chair of the House Committee on Energy Policy. “There is already plenty of data sharing going on in our wired-in world, but we can decide to limit those intrusions by not participating in those services or companies. Moreover, it is a legitimate cyber-security concern that machines that can shut off electricity in our homes are computerized and connected to the Internet. For a basic life necessity such as electricity, where participation is not a choice, consumers still must have the freedom to choose.”
WXYX in Detroit reported on the new legislative effort recalling how the utility company DTE had recently turned off the power for a 92-year old lady for refusing a smart meter, saying it had acted in the “best interest of the customer and the community by turning off her power.” Really? Does anyone expect us to believe that statement?
View the video clip below for more information on this story. Consumers in Michigan should contact their local representatives to voice their opinion of HB 4916. Although a positive development, SkyVision Solutions has not seen a copy of the actual proposed legislation. Press reports mention a potential opt-out charge of up to $5 per month. This means it may still cost money to avoid the risks related to smart meters if the legislation is adopted.
Updated Entry, Oct 1, 2015
It took a few days for the actual bill to be posted to the Michigan Legislature website. Upon review, I find the bill language somewhat cumbersome, but it is apparent that the $5 per month potential charge is only applicable if a customer doesn’t agree to read and report one’s own usage for a traditional meter. Progress for HB 4916 should be able to be tracked at the following link:
[The above video contains material used pursuant to the Fair Use Doctrine under 17 U.S.C. 107 and is presented in the public’s interest for non-commercial purposes.]
Source Material for this Article
“Rep. Glenn bill backs Schuette action on ‘smart meters’,” at http://gophouse.org/rep-glenn-bill-backs-schuette-action-on-smart-meters/
“Legislation introduced that would give consumers a choice about smart meters,” WXYX Detroit, at http://www.wxyz.com/news/legislation-introduced-that-would-give-consumers-a-choice-about-smart-meters