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Smart meter charges?

Mark Brooky • Jul 21, 2015 at 12:35 PM

Joanne further said her electricity provider informed her that it plans to install a smart meter at her home. She said she requested information on opting out and was told it would cost $69.39, and $11.12 per month thereafter.

"I'm not sure how these charges were determined, but it is what it is," she said. "I have read my own meter since 2007 and called it in. Any data I may want is stated on my bill monthly or I record it myself."

ANSWER:

Dennis McKee, communications director of Consumers Energy's Smart Energy Program, said House Bill 4315 (introduced by McMillin, R-Rochester Hills) "is an unnecessary and restrictive bill that will hinder Consumers Energy from providing upgraded meters that lay the foundation for improved customer service and money-saving programs for our customers."

The bill was introduced in February and referred to the House Committee on Energy and Technology. That's as far as it has gotten.

McMillin's proposed legislation does not lay out opt-out fees, except if an "advanced" meter has been installed and the customer then decides to "opt out." The utility would then be able to charge a one-time fee of up to $50 for the removal of the "advanced" meter and putting the old one back.

The proposal would also prohibit utilities from imposing "any disincentive on a residential customer for not requesting or accepting the installation of an advanced meter or use of an advanced meter function."

The Oakland Press reported earlier this year that Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette opined that DTE customers should not have to pay a fee to have smart meters removed from their homes, and should be allowed to retain analog electric meters.

McKee said smart meters are safe and secure. The encrypted information sent by them is only aggregate energy consumption data and can only be used for billing purposes, balancing electric supply and demand, and energy reports to customers.

"The technology upgrade sets the foundation for better outage response, electronic meter reads that virtually eliminate estimated bills, and future programs to help our customers save energy and money," he added. "Feedback from our customers has been enthusiastic, strong and supportive."

McKee said the Michigan Public Service Commission will determine by Sept. 1 the actual costs of the Consumers Energy Manual Meter Read Program, which provides customers the option to continue to utilize older meter technology. Under consideration right now is a $69.39 one-time program fee that McKee said reflects the costs of maintaining a program to support the older meters, eventual replacement of the meter at another time and other efficiencies lost by continuing to use the older technology. 

The $11.12 monthly Manual Meter Read Program fee under consideration by the state commission reflects the costs of sending out personnel each month to conduct manual meter reads, after a system has been set up to render that process unnecessary.

For more information about the Consumers Energy Smart Energy Program, visit consumersenergy.com/smartenergy or call 888-862-2199.

Here's an alternative site: smartmeterupdate.com/home/team-michigan/.

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