Michigan: State representative seeking support for bill to ban opt-out fees

From WILX, News 10

February 7, 2017

LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - There's a move in the state legislature to get rid
of fees that utilities charge to customers who want to keep their "old
meters".

On Friday, News 10 reported Consumers Energy charges its customers a
one-time fee of $69.39 to opt-out of having an advanced meter installed on
their home.

There is a monthly fee of $9.72 after that to have a meter-reader come out.

This bill hasn't been formally introduced just yet and Representative Gary
Glenn (R-Midland) is working to get support for it.

In addition to waiving the opt-out fees, the legislation would allow home
owners to self-read their meter by just taking a picture of it and sending
it in.

The utility could check the meter quarterly to confirm they're not being
misled.

Rep. Glenn tells News 10 the choice should be up to the home owner. 

"As long as those utilities are a state privilege monopoly given the right
exclusively to deliver electricity, then we are going to protect homeowners
from that kind of monopoly policy," said Rep. Glenn. "Trying to force
certain technology on homeowners against their will or if they refuse to
have it installed, charge them.

Consumers Energy sent this written statement to News 10 Tuesday afternoon.

"Consumers Energy believes the present advanced meter technology program and
oversight by the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) have led to an
important and safe technology change for energy customers across Michigan.
We provide the option of a non-communicating meter to those customers who
choose not to take the upgraded meter technology. However, the upgraded
meter technology - which follows national testing for accuracy and safety -
provides customers with benefits including: accurate bills; insights into
their energy usage; billing and rate options and ways to help manage their
overall energy use. In 2015, according to the U.S. energy information
administration, there were about 64.7 million advanced meter installations
in the U.S.

Once the legislation is formally introduced the Michigan Energy Policy
Committee, which Rep. Glenn is the chair of, will hold a public hearing to
listen to your concerns.

Last year Attorney General Bill Schuette issued a legal opinion that
utilities don't have the authority to charge "opt-out" fees.

It was dismissed by the state Public Service Commission which oversees
utilities.

News 10 will let you know what happens with the bill.

http://www.wilx.com/content/news/State-representative-working-to-gain-support-for-smart-meter-legislation-413035753.html
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