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Posted on Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 5:57 a.m.

Ann Arbor-based group files appeal of DTE advanced meter mandate

By Ben Freed

A group headed by two Ann Arbor women is appealing an order by the Michigan Public Service Commission approving DTE Energy’s use of radio-disabled advanced meters for customers who chose to “opt-out” of the smart meter service.


DTE is in the process of installing the new advanced meters on homes and businesses in their coverage area which includes most of Eastern Michigan.

File photo |

The Smart Meter Education Network has filed a claim with the Michigan Court of Appeals claiming the MPSC did not properly consider the evidence presented by critics of the new meters before reaching their decision.

“The commission and the judge completely ignored our extremely detailed argument on the cost of installing the radio-disabled meters,” organizer Linda Kurtz said.

“… And all of the health testimony we had was barred. One of the big things is that these so-called 'opt-out' meters do not solve the health problems for people who experience them.”

The new meters are designed to collect more accurate measures of power usage by DTE customers and are equipped with a radio device that allows for remote meter readings.

“It fully transforms our customer and service reliability options,” DTE spokesperson Scott Simons said.

“For one thing, they allow us to get true meter readings, which eliminate estimated bills. The meters also allow us to quickly locate and reduce the length of a power outage as well as more quickly connect and disconnect service.”

Simons said the ability to remotely connect and disconnect service can be extremely important for the company in assisting firefighters and other first-responders. “When there’s a house fire, the first responders will get there much more quickly than we can,” he said.

“With the new meters, they can give us a call, tell us where the address is, and then we can disconnect service to remove any potential hazard for them.”

After a meeting Tuesday, Simons said DTE will be adopting a number of changes to make customers more aware of their ability to opt out and receive the radio-disabled devices.

“We’re going to put the program information in a more prominent place on our website,” he said.

“Additionally, all of the letters that we send to people letting them know that we’re going to be installing the advanced meters in their neighborhood will provide opt out information. It’s been just a little over one month since the commission order so it’s something that’s a continuous improvement process.”

Kurtz believes DTE customers should be allowed to keep their older digital or analogue meters rather than having to switch to the new smart meters. The MPSC decision allows the company to charge customers who choose to have the radio-disabled meters an extra installation fee and monthly meter-reading fees.

MPSC spokesperson Judy Palnau said the public service commission’s attorneys would respond to the appeal and defend the commission’s order.

“This might not be over quickly though,” she said. “I’ve been told that the appeals process can be lengthy.”

Kurtz is unsure what decision the court will come to, but she hopes the health concerns she and others have expressed will be taken into greater consideration. Members of the network claim a variety of maladies — most notably insomnia and ringing in the ears — result from the installation of smart meters with or without the radio signal.

“Some people say that it’s all in our heads,” she said.

“But I have no reason to want to feel this way. I have no reason to want these effects on my body because it has limited my life to an extreme degree.”

There has not been conclusive evidence to scientifically prove the claim that smart meters have an effect on human health.

Ben Freed covers business for You can sign up here to receive Business Review updates every week. Get in touch with Ben at 734-623-2528 or email him at Follow him on twitter @BFreedinA2



Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 3:57 p.m.

I hear that tin foil hats solve most of the problems.


Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 4:48 a.m.

Boy, people in your area are pretty vicious to their neighbors. If people don't want the meters for whatever personal reasons why not respect their wishes. What's wrong with a precautionary approach? These devices were not piloted for any long period of time. They should be before foisting them on large populations. They are going 24/7 all throughout your neighborhoods I suggest all you experts out there give this clip a viewing.


Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 2:52 a.m.

Have you considered criminal charges against DTE? They are installing devices to transmit information about events in private places. If that is not a violation of Michigan law (below), then do you think DTE wouldn't charge you for tampering with a meter, if you installed a device to block transmission of the data from the meter? Try this link: Which takes you to: THE MICHIGAN PENAL CODE (EXCERPT), Act 328 of 1931 750.539d Installation, placement, or use of device for observing, recording, transmitting, photographing or eavesdropping in private place. Watching this if you are not convinced:

Resident Expert

Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 8:54 p.m.

The studies being used by those afflicted with EM field sensitivity are not scientifically rigorous and have failed to take the appropriate measures to account for confirmation bias, the placebo effect, the null hypothesis, and many other things that proper medical studies must deal with. Properly conducted medical studies have shown time and time again that when placed in a shielded chamber with a transmitter, those afflicted with this disorder are only capable of a 50% accuracy rate when asked if the transmitter is turned on. As any statistician will tell you, this immediately makes their condition suspect since you could obtain that same accuracy rate by flipping a coin to answer the question. The lack of scientific rigor in the studies presented by the EM sensitives are why they were forbidden from being entered as evidence. If they presented a study that was done in accordance with established medical practice then the Judge would allow it, but they can't provide such a study because it would indicate that their symptoms are not related to the electromagnetic fields.


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 6:10 p.m.

I speak as someone who has successfully sued DTE Energy after I caught them in the act of meter fixing (DTE Energy had fixed my meter to read and bill me 10 times my actual usage). I've heard a lot of the same arguments for/against these "Smart Meters" in other municipalities, often with other electric providers that have a record of being every bit as untrustworthy and criminally-inept as DTE Energy. I do not know enough about these meters and technology to form a strong opinion pro or con. However, considering the track record of such monopolistic-Corporations, I would encourage extreme caution, diligence, and regulatory review by customers and politicians alike....

G. Orwell

Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 6:04 p.m.

For decades our governmentent told us fluoride is good for us. Now it turns out fluoride causes cancer and Harvard recently confirmed fluoride reduces IQ levels. Some of you deniers may have trusted the government too much and probably drank too much fluoride. Fluoride is a toxic waste and a dangerous neurotoxin. Keep drinking your fluoride. Government says it's good for you.

Jaime Magiera

Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 3:29 a.m.

Actually, there is no evidence that Fluoride, at the levels used in municipal water, causes cancer or reduces IQ levels. The study from Harvard which everyone quotes is about naturally occurring Fluoride in China at doses far, far greater than what people here are exposed to.


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 4:30 p.m.

Here are a few points missed by the article: 1. to the comment that other devices already in use are causing the same amount of output, see this from respected science man: a) smart meter transmissions safe as other household appl, cell phones is false. See: . A video of Daniel Hirsch talking about this here: 2. smart meters (avg) transmit 6 messages per day re; electric usage, and 9600 to 196,000 for smart grid network communication activity (secondary source quoting cpuc source: 3. smart meter class action lawsuit california w/citations to peer reviewed studies on safety 4. American Academy of Environmental Medicine Calls for Halt to Smart Meters in Homes and Schools 5. Post-deployment problems for Maine's CMP - claims made by CMP electric utility in Maine, about smart meters reducing costs to customer, are now completely false in the face of reality. In fact, CMP are asking for a rate increase. (The same is expected in Michigan, and Attorney General Schuette said he will fight in the courts any rate increase sought by the utilities). 6. Smart meter deployments with the least public resistance were when the utilities "wired" the smart meters – meaning not wireless. ( ) 7. Not mention -- Attorney General Bill Schuette agrees with Linda Kurtz' position ( Don't leave people underinformed.

Jaime Magiera

Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 3:38 a.m.

Here, let me provide you with some information that clarifies the situation. Smart Meters provide less energy per burst, individually and collectively, than other household electronic devices:


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 7:31 p.m.

The down votes on a comment that offers information clearly indicates most people simply do not want information. The lack of discussion of opposing views/cautions suits most readers here just fine. Sad, but true.


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 4:10 p.m.

Fortunately, nobody will ever figure out how to intrude into DTE's systems and misuse the remote disconnect feature, right? I mean, who would want to do that to harass someone they dislike, or to render a house safe for burglary? Let's focus on actual risks, and drop the "meters give me rashes even though I've been carrying two cell phones for years with no effect" kind of woo-woo.


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 3:36 p.m.

As far as quick disconnect is concerned. here is real example. About 2 weeks ago, a small garage fire on Rickett rd here in Brighton spread to the attached house in the time it took for DTE to do the service interupt called for by Brighton Fire Authority. This was for the protection of firefighters. Because of the delay, the home is a total loss instead of what may have been saved. No one has mentioned other advantages: Instead of long term blackouts caused by overloaded lines and transformers in Summer a/c loading situations, service sectors can be shut down for brief periods to relieve the strain/load and then switched back on (usually 20 minute periods once every 24 hrs. This is much better than a 3 day out of service condition with no refridgeration, a/c, water and other essentials. If you want to place blame, look to the heavy electricity users: A/C, heating, cooling, pools, lighting and the motors in heavy equipment. Not to say you don't deserve a 9,000 sq. ft. house, but keeping it and 68 degrees is a problem for your neighbors.


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 2:04 p.m.

"With the new meters, they can give us a call, tell us where the address is, and then we can disconnect service to remove any potential hazard for them." That's the first admission I've heard on the remote disconnect feature. I knew some smart meters had that but I didn't know if the ones used here had that capability. Better keep those DTE bills paid!

Basic Bob

Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 4:29 p.m.

That is the part I struggle with. remote disconnection is only to shut off service when the bill is unpaid.

Ben Freed

Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 2:24 p.m.

Brad, This was one of the benefits Scott was touting. He also said that the remote connect and disconnect can make for a more smooth process when moving (you don't have to wait for one of their technicians to come out and connect or disconnect).


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 2:01 p.m.

Quite frankly, I'm more worried about the multiple black holes now located at and near the center of our galaxy. I like the concept of a smart meter. You can even hack them to produce a refund every month. I don't need to recharge my pacemaker so much now either. And, you can use them to get free internet and HBO programming every other month. I do actually miss my meter reader, though. The effect on the unemployment rate is probably still to be determined. Those objecting are very likely the violent arm of the International Brotherhood of Meter Readers. DTE has developed an APP to simulate functions of the old style meters. The agreement with the union is that the member will still be doing their old jobs for a while, using this APP until they can take an early retirement. At least they don't have to drive around anymore. They just sit at a desk and run the simulated meter schedule. I believe its called 'featherbedding'. (Actually, its Ampere bedding). Watt can you do? ... Honest. I read this on the internet while using my Bluetooth connection to multiple cell phone towers and driving my CAN-bus equipped German SUV running a LINUX wireless operating system and driving through intersections using signals with the same wireless technology to detect me, measure my speed and make me stop and enjoy the radiation.

Robot Charles

Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 1:50 p.m.

Both of my meters are read by a meter reader walking onto my property even though I've had a smart meter fo a year and a wireless gas meter for months. My next door neighbor's meter is not read even though they also have the smart meter. In addition my last few bills were estimated bills. So now I have to waste my time calling DTE. So even with smart meters and a meter reader, DTE still can't figure out my actual utitlity usage. I've got no problem with smart meters just DTE not following through on how they are supposed to help.


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 4:24 p.m.

You must be special Robot Charles. Find someone who really knows what's going on at DTE. I haven't seen a meter reader in my neighborhood with smart meters in over a year, I think.


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 1:47 p.m.

These people have no understanding of the principles involved. A cell phone next to your head or someone close to you using one would have an effect hundreds of times more that a meter outside of your house. The signal falls off as the square of the distance involved. Basic physics. Some just want something to fear it seems.


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 1:42 p.m.

Only in Ann Arbor! A tempest in a teapot from the tinfoil hatters.

David Cahill

Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 1:42 p.m.

How can a smart meter *without* a radio signal possibly affect anyone's health--unless it's mental health? Bring on the tinfoil hats!


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 1:36 p.m.

Studies have shown that the so-called "electrosensitive" react when they *think* they are in an EM field. The presence/absence of the field notwithstanding.


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 1:44 p.m.


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 1:42 p.m.


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 1:29 p.m.

Just paint the interior wall with EM resistant paint. It's better looking than tinfoil.


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 1:44 p.m.

Or go back to using lead based paint and take your chances with the health risks from that.

Alex Swary

Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 1:24 p.m.

People will need something to whine and complain about, and for some reason this issue fits the bill for a bunch of folks. Anyone who really believes that they will experience negative health effects from these meters is just paranoid, IMO.


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 1:19 p.m.

To the many who just love to ridicule anyone who questions the safety and privacy assurances of the government and energy establishment, does this excerpt from an article appearing on Wired, 3/15/12 give you any pause? "More and more personal and household devices are connecting to the internet, from your television to your car navigation systems to your light switches. CIA Director David Petraeus cannot wait to spy on you through them. Earlier this month, Petraeus mused about the emergence of an "Internet of Things" — that is, wired devices — at a summit for In-Q-Tel, the CIA's venture capital firm. "'Transformational' is an overused word, but I do believe it properly applies to these technologies," Petraeus enthused, "particularly to their effect on clandestine tradecraft." All those new online devices are a treasure trove of data if you're a "person of interest" to the spy community. Once upon a time, spies had to place a bug in your chandelier to hear your conversation. With the rise of the "smart home," you'd be sending tagged, geolocated data that a spy agency can intercept in real time when you use the lighting app on your phone to adjust your living room's ambiance. "Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters — all connected to the next-generation internet using abundant, low-cost, and high-power computing," Petraeus said, "the latter now going to cloud computing, in many areas greater and greater supercomputing, and, ultimately, heading to quantum computing." Petraeus allowed that these household spy devices "change our notions of secrecy" and prompt a rethink of "our notions of identity and secrecy." All of which is true — if convenient for a CIA director."


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 6:16 p.m.

mhirzel - Smart meters are equal to a modem of about 1987 vintage when it comes to bandwidth. Your wifi router or your broadband connection is way more interesting to get information through. Check what the NSA is already doing through Google and other large Internet based companies.


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 4:07 p.m.

You understand the difference between "they can collect information from the smart meters" and "smart meters somehow cause clinical symptoms even though there's no evidence that they actually do this and no way they actually could", right? Monitoring your energy use? Yeah, that's a legitimate risk. In fact, it's what they're for. Causing tinnitus and insomnia? No, you just happen to have tinnitus and insomnia and have decided the meters are responsible.


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 2:07 p.m.

You guys are hilarious! Gullible, but cute. P.S. Rick Stevens, date of article was March 2012. Petraeus quoted from speech in fall of 2011. My bubble's in tact, thanks.


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 1:54 p.m.

I have nothing to hide so they can spy on me all they want. If they want to watch a guy watch TV and play with his cat, I'll give them all the entertainment they could ask for. It seems like the more connected we are, the more paranoid people become.


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 1:43 p.m.

Another conspiracy to spy on us using electric meters? Really? Next thing somebody will come up with is the microchip planted in my dogs' ears by the Human Society will tell the government everything and everywhere we go. It'll control my dogs so that when the CIA and NSA come to my house when we're away the dogs will show them where all our personal papers are. I guess what I'm saying is I'm just a little tired of all the conspiracy tirades.

Rick Stevens

Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 1:40 p.m.

Hate to break your bubble but Petraeus isn't the CIA director any more and hasn't been since November of 2012. He's a former director and has been since then.


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 12:23 p.m.

Should be a run on tinfoil underware....

Robert Granville

Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 11:47 a.m.

Awww..... not a South Park fan? Or just can't let me call em like we all see em. These people aren't.... the cream of the crop...


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 11:26 a.m.

Personally, I really like the new meters. I don't have meter readers tromping through my yard, potentially leaving a gate open for my dogs. Oh, and I'm sleeping BETTER. So much for that insomnia theory.


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 11:02 a.m.

Maybe they ignored the testimony because it has no basis in fact?

Basic Bob

Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 10:55 a.m.

Movin' to Montana soon. Gonna be a dental floss tycoon.


Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 4:11 a.m.

Yippieio caiyay!

Jaime Magiera

Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 5:23 p.m.

Just me and the pygmy pony, over by the dental floss bush.

Basic Bob

Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 4:26 p.m.

Frank Zappa.

John of Saline

Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 3:59 p.m.

That sounds like the beginning of a country song.

Hugh Giariola

Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 10:48 a.m.

"The commission and the judge completely ignored our extremely detailed argument" No, they just disagreed with you.


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 10:44 a.m.

How are the radio signals from the smart meters any more dangerous than the cell phone radio signals that are all around us?


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 6:14 p.m.

Most smart meter radios are on for a couple of minutes a day in normal weather. Most cell phones are on far more than that. Both operate at about the same power and in the same frequency band. The radio wave power drops with roughly the square of the distance, so a meter thru a wall is at least a foot away from anything in the house, a cell phone to the ear is a lot closer. In a typical restaurant there are 4 to 8 people texting or talking on their cell phones (by observation). In a grocery store the numbers are higher. If these people were truly sensitive any shopping or dining out activity would be impossible. Add to that that the radio waves from TVs, Commercial radios, and other higher powered transmitters are everywhere, and they would need to live in a faraday cage. smart meters = cell phones that run fewer minutes a day.


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 1:32 p.m.

"recuse"?? How about "because".


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 1:30 p.m.

They transmit infrequently for very brief periods, I.e., nowhere near continuously. Recuse that is all the FCC permits in the band in which they operate.


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 1:02 p.m.

"The transmitters operate nearly continuously" As do most peoples cell phones! "They are often in close proximity to bedrooms" Cell phone to the ear tops that! "And they are more powerful." smart meter RF emissions fall below those from cell phones, cell phone base towers, microwave ovens, Wi-Fi routers.

Nicholas Urfe

Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 12:41 p.m.

The transmitters operate nearly continuously as they forward communication from neighbors. They are often in close proximity to bedrooms. And they are more powerful.


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 12:31 p.m.

There not!