National organization says analog option should remain
AARP Michigan has adopted among its top 10 legislative priorities for 2018 a bill introduced by state Rep. Gary Glenn allowing customers of Consumers Energy and DTE the freedom to opt out of having a “smart” meter installed on their homes without being forced to pay an up front and monthly fees, as is now the case.
The Michigan chapter of AARP, a national organization of more than 38 million members, said House Bill 4220 would allow customers to keep their old analog meter and replace already-installed smart-meter technology with an analog meter. Some customers consider smart meters, which provide utilities with real-time metering, are a violation of private property rights and could compromise data privacy and cyber security.
Glenn (R-Williams Township), who is author of the bill and chair of the House Energy Policy Committee, said opposition to smart meters is growing.
“I have conducted public hearings on this issue and there is a keen interest in affordable ways to opt out of smart meters,” Glenn said. “It is very apparent that utility customers across the state have valid concerns about their health and privacy.
“Multiple overflow public hearings on this issue reveal a keen interest in affordable ways to opt out of smart meters, especially for senior citizens on severely limited budgets,” Glenn said. “It is very apparent that utility customers across the state, many of them retirees, have strongly-held concerns about the effect of smart meter technology.
“AARP’s making this legislation one of their top priorities indicates that the Legislature is not the only place senior citizens are registering their concerns,” Glenn said. “I’m pleased to have AARP’s support for my efforts to give people a choice on how their electricity usage is recorded.”
Consumers Energy and DTE Energy now charge residents nearly $70 upfront and nearly $10 a month afterwards to opt out of programs involving advanced electricity meters installed outside residential customers’ homes.
Attorney General Bill Schuette took utilities to court to try to protect customers from being forced to accept installment of smart meters without penalty, but the state Court of Appeals ruled that unless state law is changed, homeowners can legally be charged for refusing to accept the technology.
Glenn’s bill is under consideration in the House Energy Policy Committee.