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You are Viewing an Archived IssuePosted: 06/27/12
Bruce passes resolution
to delay smart meters
by CHRIS GRAYBruce Township joins other communities in saying it's a smart move to study smart meter technology.
Observer Staff Writer
Trustees passed a resolution to support the delay of digital smart meters from coming into Bruce Township with a 4-0 vote. Trustee Mark Falker was not present at the July 20 meeting.
The resolution will be sent to DTE Energy and the Michigan Public Service Council (MPSC).
Smart meters measure and record energy or gas usage and sends the information to utility companies, eliminating the need to have someone read meters each month.
DTE Energy touts other benefits such as quicker responses to power outages and more accurate billing.
Trustee Paul Okoniewski said people have brought up concerns about the technology due to potential health risks caused by Radio Frequency (RF) emissions and its ability to closely monitor energy usage.
He said the technology hasn't been fully researched, so people should possess the ability to refuse having a meter installed.
"The idea here is to give people an option, not that they have to do one way or the other," he said. "Currently there is not that option.
Although the resolution calls for delaying smart meters, the MPSC will ultimately determine if the meters can indeed be installed by DTE Energy.
Additionally, the resolution asks for an opt-out program to be free of fines, but this, too, will not be the township's decision.
Supervisor Jim Tignanelli said the township can't force anyone to do anything, but the resolution does allow it to have some influence on the state's decision.
"Nobody should believe that by saying this (resolution) it's going to stop something from happening," Tignanelli said.
During public comment, John Houghton of Shelby Township said measures like what Bruce Township passed hold DTE Energy and officials in Lansing accountable.
"It is so important that we hold the people that we elected and put our trust in to do right by it," he said.
Joe Gwisdalla, a Bruce Township resident, spoke up against the resolution. He said he believes companies will likely charge people to not have the smart meters installed on their homes.
"I don't like people getting into my pocket, and I see this as eventually going to cost me money if we dislike these smart meters," he said.
He referred to California's opt-out programs that allow power companies to charge a fee to cover the cost of sending meter readers out on a monthly basis.
He said his experience in working with Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) at the Ford Proving Grounds work has made him aware of health risks caused by such devices, and claimed the stories about health problems have been exaggerated.
"Put a meter in front of a microwave and there's more EMF coming out of that microwave with the door shut than you get at three feet from that (smart meter) on your house," he said.
According to DTE Energy, the RF output of its meters is 550 times less than a microwave, and 3.3 to 1,100 times less than cell phones.
The MPSC has reported that the RF emissions do not cause adverse health effects so long as exposure is within safety guidelines. Guidelines are set by the Federal Communications Commission.
In 2006, the World Health Organization stated studies over the past 15 years have not provided evidence that RF exposure increases the risk of cancer.
However, it says few studies have been conducted regarding the general health of those exposed to RF emissions since it's difficult to distinguish the effects of low-emission devices when there are other high strength signals in the environment.