Detroit Edison (DTE) Energy reportedly agrees that consumers should be able to opt out smart meters. However, those who choose to keep analog meters should expect to incur additional charges.
The Detroit News reports that DTE spokesman Scott Simons says, “We understand there are some concerns about advance meters, and that’s why we are going to offer an opt-out program. There will be a charge. That (amount) hasn’t been finalized yet.”
The charge will be to pay for the extra costs associated with using the old meters, which require utility employees to physically travel to the meter in order to read it manually. Smart meters use radio frequencies to measure energy usage and don’t require manual reading. DTE is readying to to submit an opt-out proposal to the Public Service Commission within a month.
As in other cities, critics of smart meters in Detroit are concerned about the radio frequencies. Pauline Holeton and her husband have founded the website Warriors of American Revolution to warn people about their perceived dangers of smart meters.
Holeton told the Detroit News, “People need choices, and they don’t have choices. They’re slapping these meters on houses like crazy and not even asking people. DTE needs to be cautious about people’s rights and feelings, and they’re neglecting that.”
The Michigan Public Service Commission launched an investigation about potential privacy and health issues posed by radio frequencies emitted by the new meters. The report “determined that the health risk from the installation of metering systems using radio transmitters is insignificant.”
There are currently around 800,000 DTE Energy smart meters currently in use in southeast Michigan homes. DTE plans to have one million installed by the end of 2013 and more than two and a half million smart meters in total when completed. Another utility, Consumers Energy, has completed the deployment phase that calls for around two million meters installed by 2019.