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Posted on Wed, May 15, 2013 : 4:45 p.m.

State commission rules DTE Energy can charge opt out fees to customers in smart meter program

By Amy Biolchini

The Michigan Public Service Commission has ruled that DTE Energy can charge its customers who opt out of its smart meter program, according to media reports.

The Commission ruled Wednesday that DTE can charge an initial $67.20 to opt out, as well as a monthly surcharge of $9.80, MLive reported.

The charges are the same rates that were recommended by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, who issued a written opinion this February.

DTE had previously proposed an initial fee of $87 and a monthly charge of $15 for the opt-out program.

Schuette said those fees were not justified, given the company's reported costs for the services to remove the meters.

A cost schedule DTE Energy submitted stated labor and overhead costs average about $61.46 per hour for removal, including additional fees for training and billing.

For each customer every month, DTE claimed it would cost $8 to read a meter, $2 for a supervisor, $3.60 for two billing analysts and $2 for a route coordinator. DTE bills its customers now a meter-reading rate of $0.45 per month.

The opt-out plan was developed at the request of the Michigan Public Service Commission after a number of people expressed concern that the smart meters could cause negative health effects.

Smart meters are digital devices that track energy usage. DTE and other utility companies use them in place of older analog meters. The new devices are equipped with radio transmitters to wirelessly communicate electricity consumption information to the company.

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.



Thu, May 16, 2013 : 11:46 p.m.

What a farce this little dance has been. A public utility "regulated" by a board that it pays for.


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 11:15 a.m.

I just love the way the " tinfoilers " talk as if electricity is a gift from god..It's a commidity owned by a company that you buy just like corn flakes or toilet paper ..if you don't like how it's despensed don't use it ..end of problem...nanny staters...duh....


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 10:35 a.m.

Until they can get every household fitted with a wireless system, they will still have meter readers going around. No mystery there. As far as the evil radiation goes, these are powered by quite small batteries that are supposed to last at least five years. No way lots of radiation is being broadcast with such a tiny power source. Got talk on your cell phone for ten minutes with it held next to your head and next to your children, you just got a years worth of the exposure from a smart meter. Reality doesn't change regardless of the ammount of BS being put out.


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 6:10 a.m.

Sounds like the end game of a classic extortion scheme. An unwanted smartmeter is mounted on Joe Smith's house while he's gone. His bill goes up to pay for the unrequested meter as has everyone's. He possibly suffers bad health effects. Maybe it would have been worth it pay more every month to keep his old meter? Like paying to avoid having his kneecaps broken. Very shady! The utilities get to rake in cash with a new racket. What about the poor apartment dweller with 25 meters right outside his/her bedroom? He better hope he can pressure his neighbors to cough up the extra cash payment to PEPCO or he'll get no relief. Shadier!

Robot Charles

Thu, May 16, 2013 : 3:19 a.m.

I've had a smart meter for a long time and a meter reader still comes into my backyard to read it. Also my gas meter was updated to have a radio enabled display so now that is wireless as well. Still a meter reader reads it. I can see how having continuous monitoring of customers helps DTE with billing, but I don't see how this helps reduce energy usage. All of the effort DTE put into this along with the government grants they got could have been used to convert street lamps into solar powered LEDs. Something that saves energy and makes for safer streets.


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 1:35 a.m.

I have to say this new meter is some what annoying for my older parents who live in the country. They had someone show up today claiming they were from a area not associated in washtenaw county in a DTE van. They knocked on their door and said they are there because their electric water heater did not seem to be working properly. I was happy to hear my father basically told them to f themselves.


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 4:22 a.m.

Better to pay double or triple, or perhaps have an electrical short near water. Smart.


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 2:20 a.m.

Good for Dad.

Amy Biolchini

Wed, May 15, 2013 : 10:55 p.m.

What do you think of the fees that the Michigan Public Service Commission approved, given what DTE Energy said were their incurred costs for the services themselves? Are they fair? Should consumers have to pay to opt-out at all?


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 12:07 a.m.

"For each customer every month, DTE claimed it would cost $8 to read a meter, $2 for a supervisor, $3.60 for two billing analysts and $2 for a route coordinator. DTE bills its customers now a meter-reading rate of $0.45 per month." In a nutshell, it's price gouging. With all the technology, computers, and systems that are in place, DTE still has to pay for two billing analysts? If we are to believe DTE bills its customers "now a meter reading rate of $0.45 per month, then they should continue to do so. According to my current bill, DTE charges me $10.50 every month calling it a "Customer Charge." And this is on top of the amount of usage I had during the month. They have yet to tell me if this $10.50 "customer charge" will go away once they switch the meter over. I am still trying to figure out what this $10.50 fee every month is for.

G. Orwell

Wed, May 15, 2013 : 10:21 p.m.

These tinfoil hat wearers think just because it is labelled "smart" meter, somehow it will provide benefits for the masses. These naive masses have not done any research into these meters. Here are some of the benefits you can expect to receive: 1. Higher electricity rates. 2. Possible health effects from constant bombardment of EMF radiation. 3. Spying. As the former CIA director stated, "We will spy on you through your dishwasher. Dishwashers will be connected to your smart meter. Enjoy your benefits.


Wed, May 15, 2013 : 9:54 p.m.

Sadly most of those who are so "concerned" about this extra RF energy being around them think nothing of holding a cell phone next to their head for long periods of time. As the energy exposure is governed by the inverse square law (double the distance get 1/4 the exposure) they are only fooling themselves as to what the dangerous activity might be.


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 12:22 a.m.

Please don't give people scared of radio light any hint of justification.....let's move past these fictitious dangers.....


Wed, May 15, 2013 : 9:36 p.m.

Just wait until you find out the real reason DTE wants these new meters. It has little to do with paying meter readers and everything to do with adding charges for use of electricity during peak usage hours. I just want them to be honest about why they are doing this. This is what you get when you allow the utilities to control who gets appointed to the Public Services Commission. These are all political patronage jobs. These meters also allow power to be turned on or off from a central computer. We have all seen how easy it has been for Chinese hackers to get into industrial computers. What will happen when one gets into DTE's computer.


Wed, May 15, 2013 : 9:18 p.m.

A "superstition surcharge". There should be more of that in the world.

Basic Bob

Thu, May 16, 2013 : 12:03 a.m.

Knock on wood.

Nicholas Urfe

Wed, May 15, 2013 : 9:17 p.m.

The meters broadcast continuously, as they forward data from other meters in the neighborhood. Would you really want one just on the other side of the wall from your infant's crib?


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 3:33 p.m.

If the meter isn't on the other side of the wall, something else will be giving off rays somewhere. If you live anywhere near a populated city then there are rays coming from everywhere (cell phones, wireless internet, microwaves, etc) so I highly doubt that these meters are going to do anything that everything else around us isn't already doing.


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 6:17 a.m.

I agree. I also see that the utility mafia has its people talking about "very low duty cycles."These guys don't even understand what they have been told to say. I know people who have had to go off the grid just to continue to live in their homes with 24/7 pulsed microwave radiation. The utilities say they will be broadcasting for like a minute a day but they don't tell you that's the sum total of 190,000 very brief pulsed microwaves which can shock your biology. I have checked it with RF meters. We are being misled at the expense of our health! Its sad but true!!


Wed, May 15, 2013 : 9:45 p.m.

The chat system stripped the link. Do a search for "YShield High Frequency Shielding Paint".


Wed, May 15, 2013 : 9:22 p.m.

Actually they transmit at very low duty cycles - almost the opposite of "continuously".


Wed, May 15, 2013 : 9:04 p.m.

I just want to know when we'll get our smart meter. I'm all for it. I've got my tin foil hat ready.

David Cahill

Wed, May 15, 2013 : 8:53 p.m.

Giving opt-out people tinfoil hats would be cheaper.