Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Consumers Energy Gas Smart Meters-- You Can Opt Out

Consumers Energy will allow customers to opt out of the smart gas meter at no charge. They will first try to get you to accept the AMR/ERT/modular gas meter instead. Tell them, no, you don't want that, you want to keep your current, analog gas meter. They will allow you to do so.

If you get your electricity from DTE and your gas from Consumers, there is currently no charge to opt out.

If you get both electric and gas from Consumers, then the opt-out charge for the electric meter will include the gas meter, but you must be sure to tell them you want to have an analog gas meter.

Here is one person's report:

"Once I mentioned I wanted to opt out of having a gas smart meter on my home, she told me I would get a modular added to my current meter, so that the Consumer Energy driver could retrieve the info just by driving by without stopping.
"I refused it and said I didn’t want any modular either, and that we were anyway always taking a picture each month of the reading and uploading it on their website. She accepted my request easily. She confirmed I will not get a modular and will retain my analog meter. I asked if there would be any extra fee for the opt out. She answered: not at this time but she can’t guarantee they won’t be any later at some point."

For more information about smart meters, and to sign up for our newsletter, which will keep you up to date, please go to Smart Meter Education Network.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Important: Tell House Energy Committee About Your Electric Bill Increases

Our previous posts discuss the huge billing increases some DTE and Consumers Energy customers are experiencing. If you are experiencing these billing increases, please ACT! Here's how:

1.      The Michigan House Energy Committee is holding hearings on these bill increases on Tuesday, February 13 from 9:00 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.. You can participate in person and/or by submitting comments via email. It is very important to submit comments. Submit comments to the committee clerk and all members of the Energy Committee. A list you can copy and paste is at the bottom of this email.  If you wish to attend in person, the address is  Room 519, Anderson Building, 124 N Capitol Ave, Lansing, MI 48933.
2.       If you plan to attend in person, make sure you submit your comments via email (see below), because you might or might not get a chance to speak. You can attend even if you don’t want to speak.
3.      You need to let your own state representative and senator know what is happening.
4.      It is likely that a second hearing on this issue will be held on February 20 or 27, but we do not know that for sure.
5.       Make sure to save what you write up. You will need it in the future.
What to Say
 1.      We have outlined what you need to say at Huge Electric Bill Increases. You can see a sample letter I sent in at DTE Defrauding Customers.
2.      You will compare not the dollar amount of your bill  but the kWh (kilowatt-hour) usage from the same months in different years. That is easy to do, because DTE give you that information on the front of your bill.  The longer you can go back in time, the better.
3.      At the end of your letter, tell the legislators that the only meter that can accurately measure your ACTUAL electricity usage is the analog meter. You can also tell them that the smart meter and any digital meter can be configured to measure in any way it wants, because it’s a computer. You can also mention that smart meters can be hacked.  Be sure to put this in your own words! If they get bunches of letters with the same wording, it has less effect.
4.      Tell them that you want a meter that measures your electricity usage accurately, and for this reason you want House Bill 4220, the Analog Meter Choice Bill, passed.

Make sure you write your own state representative and senator (and tell them you are their constituent). We urge you to write all Michigan representatives and senators (copy-and-paste lists at the links). Put whatever title you want in the subject line.

Below are lists of House Energy Committee Members. For what you are sending to the committee, you must make sure you put “Testimony for February 13, 2018 Energy Committee Hearing” in the subject line.

House Energy Committee Emails

Sunday, February 11, 2018

DTE Defrauding Customers

See our previous post about skyrocketing electric bills. It's very important that you write the legislators about this.  You can get their contact information on our Analog Meter Choice Bill page.

Here's the letter I just sent:

Perhaps you are aware that thousands of customers are complaining of skyrocketing electric bills in the middle of winter, even when they have gas heat.

I am one of those customers. 

I have lived in my Ann Arbor home for 21 years. I heat my house via a GAS boiler.  Suddenly, after the smart meter was put on my home, my ELECTRIC usaage has jumped 140% (over what it was the year before) for the last billing cycle, which ended in mid-January. There is no other year in which my electric bill has been so insanely high for the past 21 years, and there is NO REASON for it to be high in the winter.
Could it be the cold? Nope. My GAS usage has gone up 77% for the same period, not 140%, and I heat my house with a gas boiler.
The sole explanation, given that I am not running anything more than usual: The smart meter.
The smart meter is a black box. An analog meter passively measures your total consumption. The computer that is the smart meter can be programmed remotely to do anything they want it to do. And the customer has no recourse, no way to prove that s/he is being cheated.

The only solution is an ANALOG meter. The utility can't program it to run differently or charge a different rate.
House Bill 4220, the Analog Meter Choice Bill, needs to be passed  because customers are being defrauded and the only way to prevent this fraud is an analog meter.
I would appreciate hearing your thoughts on this matter.  Thank you.

Linda Kurtz


Saturday, February 10, 2018

Huge Electric Bill Increases: Hearing on Feb 13

Has your electric bill gone up significantly at any point since a smart meter was installed on your home? It has for many people (see previous posts on this blog). You will have a chance to make your voice heard at the February 13 House Energy Committee hearing either via oral or written (email) testimony. DTE, Consumers Energy, the Michigan Public Service Commission, the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General's office, and AARP have all been asked to testify. Be sure to make your comments as short as possible. Really, all you need is 30 seconds to 1 minute. We can be sure that Chairman Glenn (and probably all parties except the utilities) will cover the unjustness. What you need to show is that your bill increased significantly—some people have seen $20,000 bills, others spikes of several hundred dollars. Links: Fox17 report on Consumers.

Hearing Location: Room 519, Anderson Building, 124 N Capitol Ave, Lansing, MI 48933.
Hearing Time: 9:00 a.m. - 10:30 a.m., Tuesday, February 13

Submit Written (Email) Testimony to: esleeper@house.mi.gov (this is the committee clerk)  Be sure to to include: "Testimony for February 13, 2018 Energy Cmte Meeting" in the subject line. 

If your bill has gone up hundreds of dollars, you can be almost certain that the smart meter is the culprit. Be sure to bring copies of your old and new bills to the hearing. Be sure to make clear that it is a smart meter on your home.

It is very easy to do. Look at the kWh usage that shows on the front of the bill and compares to the same period last year. Then look at bills from earlier years. How much has your kWh usage changed? Bills can fluctuate due to costs, but if your kWh usage has changed significantly, you are either running new equipment in your home or your meter is not accurately recording usage.

The information on the front of the bill is not the amount your bill has increased from previous years, but the amount your energy consumption has changed.  Here is DTE's How to Read a Bill.

Also, if you have gas heat, see whether the gas usage has gone up. If it has, what is it compared to the electric. My guess is, your guess has gone up (because it was so cold), but your electric has increased way, way more. If you aren't using space heaters or runing new equipment, then you can bet the meter is not recording your actual usage. See this letter I wrote to the Energy Committee.

To determine if your bill has gone up for reasons other than an increase in electricity costs, figure out the following. This isn’t difficult, it just takes a lot of words to explain, so please take the time to do it so that we have good evidence against the utility! You know the utility will put up many smokescreens. For the legislature and the MPSC to see through the smokescreens, we need evidence!

  1. Have you been running anything new (for example, computer, electric heater, appliance) that you did not run in prior years?
  2. Have you been running anything more often than you have in past years?
  3. If you have, you can determine how many kWh have been used by looking up your product online. For example, If your heater has a 1000 watt rating and your cost of electricity is $0.080350/Kwh your cost to operate for one hour would be $0.08. If you ran the heater 24/7, it would cost you $1.60 per day, or $50 per month.
  4. Compare the kWh charges for this bill to bills from the same months in previous years. If the charges are different, compute what the charges for the old bill would have been if you were being charged what you are being charged now.
  5. Next, look on the back of the bill under “Current Billing Information.” You will see “Days Billed.” Divide your total charges by the number of days you were billed for. That will give you your average daily rate.
  6. How different is this from previous years, computing previous years as if they were billed at the current rate?
  7. Keep all your computations.
  8. When you present your testimony orally or in writing, show how you arrived at your answer.
  9.  It is best to simply tell them how much your kWh usage has increased, according to DTE or Consumers.  What they record as kWh is what they use to compute your bill.
Just like math in school—not much fun for most of us, but essential!

A little more info not needed for the above, but FYI: Your electric bill consists of multiple parts. There is the kilowatt-hour charge. You will find this under the boldfaced “Power Supply Charges” on the back of your bill. Then there are the Delivery Charges, which are found below the Power Supply Charges. Like the Power Supply Charges, these are broken down into kWh charges.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Commission Orders Hearing on Shut-Offs: March 2

DTE has been shutting off thousands of customers because the utility can't make its billing system work properly. "The evidence for thousands of improper shutoffs was so compelling that state regulators, in effect, said DTE Energy is guilty unless it can prove otherwise. The Michigan Public Service Commission ordered the utility's gas and electric providers “to prove they did not violate the Commission’s billing rules” when they switched to a new billing system in April," reported the Detroit Free Press and WZZM13.

The commission will hold a hearing beginning March 2. We need YOU to tell us if you have been improperly shut off (DTE Shut Me Off) or if your bill has gone up significantly (My Bill Has Gone Up Significantly).

Read the MPSC press release.

The Free Press/WZZM13 article talks about "mysterious illnesses" reported by people with smart meters, again portraying people as kooks, and has a lovely, and inaccurate press release statement from DTE, but at least the word is getting out.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

DTE Bills Going Through the Roof

There is now an avalanche of customers reporting that their electric bills are going through the roof since the installation of smart meters on their homes. Consumers Energy customers are experiencing the same issues, and if you look back through our old posts, you will find some of these reports.

Just reading this will not change anything. You have to act. So, first of all
  • sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date
  • write your legislators and the House Energy Committee
  • contact Fox2 news, who will likely do a story. Give them your name, phone number, and DTE account number'
  • fill out this survey, because this is how we can log ALL the complaints and tell Fox2, the House Energy Committee, and the MI Public Service Commission how many complaints there actually are. 

The latest:
  • St Clair County residents are reporting ultra-high bills.
  • Worth Township in Lapeer County got a bill for $10,000. Their normal bill is $300.
  • My (Linda Kurtz's) bill was normal for the first two months after the smart meter was installed. The next bill is up almost 250%. I've lived in my house for 21 years, and have every bill. DTE is doing a billing investigation. I don't expect anything useful to come of that. The smart meter is a black box. You can read an analog. You can't read a smart meter.
  • One meter was programmed with a commercial code, which has a much higher rate. The customer complained for months. DTE determined the commercial code error, but did nothing and continued to charge astronomical sums. Finally, the customer took the meter off and replaced it with an analog.

Hearing on DTE Shut-Offs

On January 16, 2018, the Michigan House Energy Committee heard testimony on DTE shut-offs of customers, especially those who have refused the smart meters.

The testimony presented at the January 16 hearing on DTE and Consumers Energy shut-offs was spectacular!

We urge you to watch all of it on our YouTube channel. Jaime Chimner courageously braved the EMFs that are so devastating to her health to tell the committee about her miraculous recovery when the digital meter was removed from her home and then how Consumers Energy uncaringly cut off her electricity. She and her husband have been living since 2015 without electricty from Consumers.

Wally Listopad and his 90-year-old grandmother testified, as did Dan Schulte (DTE employees laughed while cutting off his electricity), Georgetta Livingstone, and many others.

Senator Patrick Colbeck gave great testimony about the shut-offs and the need for meter choice.

To learn more about smart meters, please visit our website, Smart Meter Education Network.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Consumer Energy Installing RF-Transmitting Gas Meters in Areas Served by DTE Electric.

Consumers Energy is installing "communicating modules" for gas meters where they provide gas service but DTE provides electric. A person will drive by to read them. These may be traditional AMR meters, which transmit only when a gun is pointed at them. On the other hand, they may be an ERT meter that is emitting RF radiation 24/7.

The only way to know is to email Consumers and ask them to send you the data sheets on this meter. In addition, ask them for the brand and model of the meter. Please email us the info at SmartMeterEducationNetwork@gmail.com.

You can OPT OUT of the transmitting meter. Contact Consumers. They aren't charging your to do it.

Consumer Energy Installing RF-Transmitting Gas Meters in Areas Served by DTE Electric.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

DTE's Latest Intimidation Tactics

People continue to resist DTE’s forced installation of smart meters, refusing to cave in to their shut-off notices and threats. This has left DTE confounded and uncertain and unable to settle upon a decisive course of action. Over the last two-and-a-half years they have continually reinvented their letters, notices, and threats in the hopes that they find some magic bullet to stop the resistance. Bottom line: Your resistance is working! DTE is not shutting off electricity to most customers to whom it sends notices (and, in a crazy twist, it is shutting off some customers who agree to allow a smart meter to be installed on their home).
Because of the strong resistance DTE is showing, and because of the publicity around the relatively small number of shut-offs, DTE is now going door-to-door, threatening customers with analog meters that if they do not accept the smart meter, their electricity will be shut off. They are hoping that people get scared and let them put a meter on, on the spot. For the most part, customers continue to refuse installation, and those customers are not being shut off.
Below we discuss some of the history of these notices and customer responses. Following that, we outline what you should do if you get a shut-off notice, some other kind of letter, or DTE personnel banging on your door or visiting your property.
Following that, you will find our original pages on what to do if you get a letter from DTE. DTE is still working to complete its initial installations in the northern parts of its territory.
Table of Contents
1)      Recent History of Letters and Shut-offs
a)      Shut-off Notices, the First Incarnation
b)      Unsuccessful, DTE Reverts to Its “Health and Safety Hazard Letter”
c)      Confounded Because Most Customers Refuse to Cave in, DTE Decides That a Gift Certificate Combined with a Shut-off Notice Might Induce People to Call and Accept the Smart Meter
2)      Even People Who Call to Accept the Smart Meter Have Been Shut Off
3)      What DTE Is Trying to AccomplishRather Unsuccessfully
4)      DTE’s Most Recent Tactic, as of Mid-November 2017
5)     What to Do If You Receive a Shut-off Notice or Other Threat
Recent History of Letters and Shut-offs
Shut-off Notices, the First Incarnation
DTE began sending out actual shut-off notices to customers in August 2017. As usual, they have tried varying tactics. In one instance, they sent shut-off notices to at least 11 Ann-Arborarea residents. Eight people refused to respond to their letter. A protest was held at the home of Linda Kurtz, leader of the Smart Meter Education Network. DTE never showed up at her home, and never shut off her electric service. DTE did shut off most of the other customers, but did not do so in one day. Channel 7 did a story on the shut-offs, we were featured on the front page of the Ann Arbor News, and appeared on MLive and in other outlets.
Unsuccessful, DTE Reverts to Its “Health and Safety Hazard Letter”
Perhaps because of the publicity, DTE reverted to its previous letter that asserts, without foundation, that a locked meter is a health and safety hazard.  DTE, with the blessing of the Michigan Public Service Commission, was using this letter as a pretext to shut off electricity to customers who did not want smart meters. (Read this and this to learn why a locked meter is not a hazard.) DTE had been sporadically sending this letter out since March of 2015. When sending the letter out, it tried various tactics to get people to cave in: Sometimes it sent the letter to customers scattered widely across its service territory, some over 100 miles apart. At other times, it would select customers in one city. In every case, DTE has hoped that customers would cave in. They hoped that the customers receiving the notices and getting shut off would talk to each other, and that everyone would then fold, accepting the smart meter without a fight. Most customers refused to fold. After nearly two-and-a-half years of that pretextual letter, DTE moved to an actual shut-off notice. When that didn’t work in Ann Arbor, DTE went back to the “health and safety hazard” letter, sending it out just a couple of weeks later to customers in the Brighton area. While some customers did call DTE and accede to their demands, most did not. DTE was foiled again, and state representative Lana Theis is fully on board with Analog Meter Choice!
Confounded Because Most Customers Refuse to Cave in,
DTE Decides That a Gift Certificate Combined with a Shut-off Notice
Might Induce People to Call and Accept the Smart Meter
Hmm, thought  DTE. What do we do now? Yeah, we get a few people caving in here and there, but mostly people are refusing. So DTE reverted to the shut-off notice that Linda Kurtz and others had been sent, but with a twist. It now threatened customers with shut-off, yet inexplicably added a carrot, a special offer for its “valued customers”: 
DTE sent out scores of these letters threatening an October 23, 2017 shut-off date, and has sent out a few threatening a later date. Most customers have refused to respond. DTE has shut off customers here and there since October 2017, but is mostly leaving people alone. Of the hundreds of letters sent out, only about 10% of “valued DTE customers” were shut off. That is good odds that you will be left alone!
Even People Who Call to Accept the Smart Meter Have Been Shut Off
 There are also people who called DTE after receiving the shut-off notice. They told DTE they would accept the smart meter (or the non-transmitting smart meter) on their home. DTE scheduled an appointment for meter replacement. DTE went out and shut off some of those people anyway, including 73-year-old Irene Robinson of Hamburg Township near Pinckney. They showed up on a Sunday morning, a week before they were scheduled to replace the meter, and simply shut off her electricity. She’s not the only one. It seems that whether you call DTE or not, your electric service may be cut. It’s all a lottery. If you get a shut-off notice, your electricity might be cutbut it might not. If you call DTE and tell them you will let them place the hazardous smart meter on your home, your electricity might stay onor it might be cut, even though you’ve made the appointment.
What DTE Is Trying to AccomplishRather Unsuccessfully
DTE has tried, through all the iterations of its threats and letters and shut-off notices, to find that magic bullet that will cause not only the person receiving the letter to cave in, but everyone else that person knows, too. They hope that if Mary Jane gets a shut-off notice or is shut off, she will talk to her neighbors who are resisting, inform all her friends and acquaintances, with the end result that all these people freak out and call DTE to accept the smart meter. They have hoped that if they send letters to a few people in widely scattered parts of the state, it will seem like DTE is on the march. It hasn’t worked. They have hoped that if they send letters to a couple handfuls of people in one city, the whole city will cave. It hasn’t worked.
DTE’s Most Recent Tactic, as of Mid-November 2017
DTE’s attempts to scare and intimidate with shut-off notices are producing poor results for the utility. Now DTE is trying yet another tactic. It’s latest letter combines the wording of many different letters it has sent out over the last five years. Here is the letter:
This letter combines elements of the “health and safety hazard” letter with other features. Among other things, DTEand the Michigan Public Service Commissionhave learned from the formal complaint I, Linda Kurtz, filed against DTE in September 2017. My complaint was denied, yet DTE has now incorporated some of my allegations into its letter. Did you know that according to DTE a deck can be a safety hazard warranting shut-off? According to the letter, you must remove your deck in order to comply with the law. Regarding the cooperation between DTE and the MPSC: I was told straight up by the head of the complaints department at the MPSC that the commission had approved DTE’s “health and safety hazard” letter and was fully supporting its contents and claims.
Most interestingly, DTE has dialed it back once again. This latest letter is not a shut-off notice but instead, like the shut-off notice, a stick combined with a carrot. Continued customer resistance, the many TV news stories, and the concerted work of Senator Patrick Colbeck’s office on behalf of customers who have been mistreated by DTE are having an effect. Goliath is meeting his David.
We post links to media stories on shut-offs on our Alerts and Breaking News page, and also on Facebook.

What to Do If You Receive a Shut-off Notice or Other Threat
1.      Call us at 972-2677 (area code 734), and follow the instructions there for connecting with us.
2.      Don’t call DTE until you talk to us.
3.      Email us with your name, city, county, and phone number and tell us the type of letter you received. If you don’t see it on this site, please attach a copy. Our email address is SmartMeterEducationNetwork@gmail DOT com (replace the “DOT” with a period). Please put “Shut-off Notice” in the subject line so that we can quickly find your email!!
4.      Remember, DTE doesn’t shut off most people.
5.      Calling DTE to allow them to put on a meter guarantees you nothing. You could schedule DTE to come out and put on an opt-out meter or smart meter, and they might come out and shut you off anyway.
6.      Know that if your electricity were to be cut off, you can get your service restored.
7.      Know that we have generators available if necessary.
8.      If you do call DTE:
a.      Every encounter you have with DTE should be recorded. DTE has lied multiple times to many people, but unfortunately people rarely record the conversations.
b.      Get the name (and and I.D.) of the person you talk with. Write down the date, time, and length of the call, and make notes on what was said. Do this for every call, without fail!
9.      Every person who gets a threatening letter from DTE needs to email every single member of the Michigan Legislature. That contact info can be found on our Analog Meter Choice Bill page. All you have to do is copy and paste the emails. There’s no excuse for not letting the legislature know what is going on!
We recommend that you do not contact DTE. As we said, DTE has sent out hundreds of shut-off notices. Only a few handfuls of people have been shut off. Moreover, even if you call DTE and accept the smart meter, they might come out and shut you off! It is better to wait and see what happens. You will probably be passed over. If you call them, you are more on their radar than ever.
Only one person has been shut off  in the last couple of weeks.
If DTE personnel come by your home and threaten shut-off, simply tell them you are not ready to accept the meter. You can read more on our Alerts and Breaking News page.