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You are Viewing an Archived IssuePosted: 05/02/12
Commissioners to re-draft
smart meter resolution
by CHRIS GRAYOfficials in Bruce Township will continue to research how they can give residents the option of not owning a smart meter.
Observer Staff Writer
At the April 25 meeting, Bruce Township Planning Commissioners decided further word-smithing of a resolution is needed before it can be recommended to the Board of Trustees.
A second draft of the resolution is expected to be presented at the Planning Commission's May meeting.
Residents crowded the April 18 Board of Trustees meeting to protest DTE Energy wanting to install advanced meters, known as smart meters, on their homes.
Because the meters use radio transmissions to send information to DTE Energy, residents are worried about the health risks associated with these transmissions.
They also expressed concern over privacy issues, as the meters can not only accurately track electrical usage, but send signals to appliances to shut them down. DTE Energy has said this would help customers manage their energy use and lower their bills.
As a result of these concerns, the Planning Commission drafted a resolution to provide residents an avenue for refusing the meters.
Paul Okoniewski, a commissioner and board representative, as well as Chairperson Mike Tremblay, drafted a resolution based on those from neighboring communities.
"I'm 100 percent that things shouldn't be forced on people, particularly this where there is a lot of concerns," Okoniewski said.
While DTE Energy has offered to provide an opt-out program, it has yet to be determined if opting out will penalize residents with a cost.
In the meantime, the resolution asks that the Michigan Public Safety Council (MPSC) and DTE Energy provide an opt-out option for residents.
In addition, the draft would put a moratorium in place to prevent the meters from coming to the township. Okoniewski suggested the moratorium be lifted when the MPSC reviews the meters.
Community Planner Chris McLeod said a moratorium should have a definitive end date as opposed to basing it on the actions of another group.
He added that he heard Macomb County isn't slated to receive the meters until 2014.
James Carnago, a commissioner and chair of the Zoning Board of Appeals, objected to the moratorium, saying it will only prompt legal battles.
"If you put in a moratorium, somebody's going to challenge it," he said.
Tremblay said the township's legal counsel should review the resolution's moratorium before it is approved.
Commissioners were also not in favor of a statement that referred to safety issues concerning the meters since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) hasn't revised its current standards for radio frequencies.
"Whether the FCC revises its standards or not, to me, is irrelevant," Tremblay said. "Our residents have concerns over this regardless of if the FCC looked at it or not."
McLeod pointed out that other concerns, like privacy and security, should be brought up in the resolution if the commission wants to mention safety issues so it's consistent.
"You singled out safety, and you're calling out the FCC based on safety standards," he said. "When I first read that I thought it was kind of an inflammatory statement."
Commissioners did agree, though, that safety should be included as to why the township doesn't want the meters.
Okoniewski and Carnago were asked to re-write the ordinance and present it at the commission's next meeting.