by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions
The Michigan House Energy Policy Committee has been conducting hearings on legislation that would restore consumer protections regarding the type of meters that are installed upon their personal property by utility companies. I provided coverage of these hearings in two previous articles.  
In this article I would like to focus on the March 7, 2017, testimony of state Senator Patrick Colbeck, who says:
“One of the ways our citizens can secure their own family from [the] threats to our power grid is to opt out of so-called smart meters and retain analog meters, which have served us well for decades. Cybersecurity threats today are very real.” 
“Against this increased risk, there is little to no consumer benefit to the adoption of smart meters.” 
State Senator Colbeck referenced previous testimony where nationally recognized cybersecurity expert Cynthia Ayers stated that smart meters increase our security risk because, as integral components in a digital network, hackers can use smart meters to remotely shut down power to one or more consumers.  
Senator Colbeck says HB 4220 must be passed in order to give consumers true choice with our monopolistic utilities and to sever any notions that people must choose between new technology they don’t want and being able to keep the power on for their own property. 
Here are some specific statements from Colbeck’s testimony  from the video provided below:
“When I look at what happens with smart meters, in particular, I’m actually concerned it is putting our homes, our nation, and frankly some of the power suppliers at significant risk.”
“The power that’s provided to our homes, our businesses, and to our government offices here are put at risk with the addition of these smart meters. That is a risk that is not entertained when you have an analog meter.”
In referring to a slide presentation, Senator Colbeck reviewed a number of risks that are being imposed on families with smart meters, including:
- No surge protection with smart meters (that does exist with analog meters)
- No conducted emissions filter
- Cyber security “back door”
- Infrared/ red light emissions on some meters that can tell people from the outside that the home is not occupied
- No circuit breaker exists between the smart meter and the power source.
Finally, Senator Colbeck implored the House to pass HB 4220 and to provide consumers a choice whether or not they adopt this risky smart meter technology.
In response to a question as to what would happen if Michigan were to move away from smart meters, Colbeck responded:
“Well, first of all, it would take one point of failure out of the equation, so that’s the smart meter which is that basic building block [of the smart grid].”
Colbeck then stated that mitigation efforts that utilities may try to put in place in order to counter the many security risks associated with smart meters cost a lot of money, and it is not clear that any of the purported smart meter benefits outweigh those costs.
Let us hope that HB 4220 in Michigan passes and helps begin a larger conversation across the nation as to why smart meter deployment projects continue to be pursued despite all the risks that are now quite evident.
In summary, in order to secure your family and home and also to do your part in helping protect national security from the significant cyber threats and other safety issues associated with smart meters, insist on installation (or retention) of a traditional analog meter. Safety first!
 “Smart Meter Data Analysis Enables Consumer Profiling with Alarmingly High Accuracy,” SkyVision Solutions Blog Article, February 2017, at https://smartgridawareness.org/2017/02/25/smart-meters-profile-consumers/
 “Expert Testimony on Smart Meters/Grid: ‘Retain analog systems to the extent possible’,” SkyVision Solutions Blog Article, March 2017, at https://smartgridawareness.org/2017/03/12/expert-testimony-retain-analog-systems/
 Sen. Colbeck: Safety and security concerns drive need for smart meter opt-out, March 7, 2017, at http://www.senatorpatrickcolbeck.com/sen-colbeck-safety-and-security-concerns-drive-need-for-smart-meter-opt-out/
 Sen. Colbeck offers testimony on need for smart meter opt-out, excerpts from YouTube video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMnLZiMMfGI