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You are Viewing an Archived IssuePosted: 04/25/12
Bruce officials look into
opt-out for smart meters
by CHRIS GRAYBruce officials are looking into whether opting out of smart meters is a smart idea.
Observer Staff Writer
The Board of Trustees is seeking a resolution that would mimic other communities around southeast Michigan in asking to opt-out of having advanced meters installed on residents' homes.
The Bruce Planning Commission will review the smart meters at its meeting tonight, April 25.
Advanced meters, otherwise known as smart meters, are being installed around communities by DTE Energy in an attempt to update the electrical grid.
The meters use low-power radio transmissions similar to those in cell phones to send a residence's utility usage information to DTE Energy. The company said this will eliminate the need to have meters manually read each month.
The meters can track energy usage, which DTE said will help customers manage and control their use and lower their bills as well as sending signals to a customer's appliances to take actions.
The meters also allow the company to track power outages and respond quicker to impacted homes.
During discussions at the board's April 18 meeting, residents in Bruce Township like Sharon Knight spoke against the meters due to the level of monitoring and control they provide DTE Energy.
"We're saying we don't want this so-called technology on our homes, period," Knight said. "There are a lot of residents that are very, very concerned, it's an intrusion to your privacy."
John and Pauline Holeton of Shelby Township run the website www.w4ar.com. They have gone around southeast Michigan speaking about the meters, citing information from sources such as Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette.
They, too, voiced their concern to Bruce trustees, asking them to pass a resolution on behalf of residents.
"There is no cost benefit to the consumer," John said. "You're paying for it up front to install."
Pauline was against the meters, claiming they are an invasion of privacy and carry health risks.
"They will be able to tell what you're doing in your house . . . this is consumer profiling with these meters," she said. "Say no when they come to your house."
According to DTE Energy, the radio frequency output is less than those from a microwave or a cell phone, and are within federally recommended levels of exposure.
They also argue the security measures of information will be at the standards the Department of Energy requires.
Trustee Paul Okoniewski said he wants a resolution similar to one in Rochester Hills that has an opt-out program.
"There's a grave concern about this and there's a lot of people that may simply not want it," he said.
He conceded, though, that the township is limited in what it can do since it doesn't regulate DTE Energy's utilities.
Clerk Susan Brockmann said when speaking with DTE Energy, township officials were told the meters will come to Macomb County, and DTE will notify communities a year ahead of time.
She said other communities are asking the Michigan Public Safety Council (MPSC) to look into an opt-out program for residents.
"We as a local municipality can pass a resolution in support of, but we technically do not have any control over DTE or obviously the MPSC," Brockmann said.
Supervisor Jim Tignanelli suggested the Planning Commission make a recommendation to the township on what sort of resolution can be passed.
"We're not going to wait for the one year's notice," he said. "We're trying to move along the best we can do with what's right and reasonable here."
He said any residents who want notification on when the meters are coming into the county should provide the township offices with their contact information.
He said the township can also inform residents on whether the MPSC will require the opt-out program.