Consumers Energy Opt-Out Program


Consumers Energy representatives often attempt to deceive people
into thinking they cannot have an analog meter.

It is very important to understand why the digital meter Consumers Energy is trying to get their opt-out customers to accept in lieu of the analog meter is hazardous to your health. Please read the information on our Dirty Electricity page and also on our DTE Opt-Out page.

For more information on the Consumers Energy opt-out program and also on the smart meter program in general, see our page on the Appeal of the Consumers Energy Opt-Out Program.
  1. Consumers Energy Does Have an Analog Opt-Out
  2. What You Must Do to Keep Your Analog Meter
  3. What If You Already Have a Smart Meter?
  4. Your Involvement Is Necessary for Us to Win
  5. Fees for Analog Meter and Fees for Digital Meter
  6. Consumers Energy Letter Regarding the Opt-Out Program
  7. More on the Opt-Out Program
  8. Useful Information and Links

 

Consumers Energy Does Have an Analog Opt-Out

Consumers does not inform its customers of the opt-out program when it sends out letters telling them that smart meters are going to be installed in their area. (DTE does do this, though in a manner meant to discourage opting out.) You can change this! Email or call us for more information.

When Consumers Energy customers call to opt out of having a smart meter on their home, they are often being told that they must accept a digital meter. In fact, as part of its opt-out program approved by the Michigan Public Service Commission, Consumers Energy allows customers to keep their analog meter1.  But the usual scenario when customers call is that Consumers tells the customer they will receive a digital meter upon opting out. If a customer tells the utility that they are entitled to an analog meter and want that, the customer service agent attempts to dissuade them. It is very important when you call to write down the time, date, representative name and I.D. number, and take notes of the call. Or record the call.

Consumers calls the opt-out meter a “non-transmitting meter,” just as DTE does. You will note that in the tariff, there is no provision made for keeping an analog meter or even an existing meter. However, the company stated in its testimony that it will allow customers to keep their analogs, and if you tell customer service you are allowed to keep it, they will accede.

If you have a digital meter on your home, you are stuck with that under this decision. Digital meters are causing the same health problems as the smart meter, because of the dirty electricity they generate. One woman, who lives in a townhome community near Manchester, called us to tell us that she couldn’t sleep at night. She wondered if she had a smart meter. She found out she did not, but that Consumers had just installed digital meters in her community. Several weeks later she called us back—she has developed trigeminal neuralgia, an excruciatingly painful nerve condition, and continues to be unable to sleep. Hers is just one story among many. Please send us your story. You can read more stories about the effect smart meters have had on the health of Michigan residents at our smart meter health blog.

If you have a smart meter on your home, your only opt-out option at this point is a digital meter.

Consumers Energy customers have a fighting chance! The Michigan Public Service Commission has been forced by the Michigan Court of Appeals to rehear the case regarding opt-out fees. Moreover, legislation is being introduced in the state legislature to require an analog opt-out option for all Michigan residents. Therefore, it is important that you warn your neighbors and your city about the harm of these meters by flyering homes, posting on bulletin boards, arranging talks, and circulating our petition. You will help save some lives by doing so!

 

What You Must Do to Keep Your Analog Meter

Here’s the synopsis, with more detail in the numbered list. We need to prove that they are not telling people about the option to keep their analog meter. When you call, get the name and I.D. number of the agent, and a reference number for the call.  Tell them you want to opt out, and see whether they mention the analog option. If they do not, follow all the directions below.

  1. Contact Consumers Energy now! Don’t want until they send you a letter telling you that smart meters are being installed in your area, because sometimes they install early or hit a particular home.
  2. An email is best. It gives you a written record. If you call, record the call. If you can’t record it, take notes. Make sure you write down the date and the time of the call. If you wish to send a letter, the address is  Consumers Energy, Smart Energy Deployment, 1945 West Parnall Rd, Jackson, Michigan  49201.
  3. We need to prove to the MPSC that Consumers Energy isn’t following the rules. So we need you to document all of this. If you are emailing Consumers, you will ask each question below in a separate email.
    1. When you call or write, say, “I want to opt out of having a smart meter on my home. What do I need to do?”
    2. Ask them, “What kind of meter do I get with the opt-out?” End the first conversation there. Get the agent’s name and I.D. number at the end of the call. Get a reference number for the call. Write down the time and date of the call.
    3. Then, call them again  (you will almost surely get a different agent). Say, “I want to opt out of having a smart meter on my home. What do I need to do?”   Then ask them, “What kind of meter do I get with the opt-out?” If they tell you a digital meter, tell them you want an analog meter. See what they say. Don’t argue right now. Record all of this via notes or by actually recording the call. Get the agent’s name and I.D. number at the end of the call. Get a reference number for the call. Write down the time and date of the call.
    4. Call them one more time (you will almost surely get a different agent) and repeat step (c).  Then ask them why they did not inform you up front that you could have an analog meter.
    5. Ask them what will happen if they installer accidentally takes your analog meter off and installs a smart meter. Will you get to have an analog put back on?
    6. Tell them you want immediate verification from them in writing that you will be keeping your analog meter, and that you will be allowed to have an analog meter on your home until such time as you decide otherwise. Get the agent’s name and I.D. number at the end of the call. Get a reference number for the call. Write down the time and date of the call.
  4. Write all this down, and send us all the information they gave you, as soon as you can. Send it to smartmetereducationnetwork @ gmail.com. Please send us a complete record of what transpired, as that will allow us to take action!
  5. Then, go out and put a sign on your meter stating that you have opted out and will be keeping your analog meter. Put any reference number down. When you get a letter, photocopy the letter and hang it next to your meter.
  6. You would be very wise to lock your meter, because we have already heard from people who had opted out, yet an installer came by and started putting on a smart meter. You could simply put a lock on your meter, although it is possible that Consumers will cut it off. However, it is unlikely they will do so, since they do have an analog opt-out. This is the least expensive option. You can get a meter cage from acstolen.com, or you can get a meter guard. A meter guard should be sufficient for you area. Please consider donating the difference between the lock and the cage to the Smart Meter Education Network, so that we can keep fighting these meters! It takes money to keep an organization going and to file lawsuits!

Be sure to read the information below on More on the Opt-Out Program, as it is uncertain whether Consumers Energy will continue the analog opt-out.

 

What If You Already Have a Smart Meter?

Consumers Energy will not allow you to have an analog meter if you already have a smart meter on your home. This is unfair and ridiculous.  Write them  a certified letter and demand an analog. Write your state senator and representative, the Michigan Public Service Commission, and the Attorney General (email miag@michigan.gov).  This is important, because the more opposition they see, the more likely they are to take action. Find your state representative here. Find your state senator here. Your state legislators are the most important individuals to write.

 

Your Involvement Is Necessary for Us to Win

Get involved in fighting the meters. You’ve got to inform your neighbors, the residents of your city, and everyone else you can. This is the way we win—by getting the word out. If no one knows, it won’t get stopped. For more information on how you can fight, see our How You Can Help page and our Flyers and Petitions page. Passing out flyers and circulating petitions is critical to changing the landscape because it alerts others to the health and privacy issues surrounding these meters. Remember, we don’t have the big bucks to pay for a television advertising program. We can win because you help!

 

Fees for Analog Meter and Fees for Digital Meter

Michigan Court of Appeals Presiding Judge Peter O’Connell, on the Consumers Energy opt-out program:

“I am also greatly concerned that the opt-out costs are actually a penalty imposed to force the opt-outers to comply with the AMI program. . .  . The PSC's implied finding that it is a fee/tariff rather than a penalty or a tax is not supported by even a scintilla of evidence in this lower court record. Just because the PSC says it is so on appeal does not make it so.”

“From this lower court record I am unable to discern the genesis, the reasons, or the rational for such an unprecedented double tariff.”

“Why both charges? On remand, the PSC should answer that question. In the case of the opt-outers, they receive no benefit from the AMI smart meter program and must actually pay to be excluded from it, but then the opt-outer must also share in the costs of the program because of the increase to the base rate.”

Unpublished opinion, July 22, 2015 (Docket Nos 317434 and 317456)

In an attempt to dissuade people from opting out, Consumers Energy charges the customer unnecessary fees. The legitimacy of these fees is currently being litigated both by a group of Consumers Energy customers and by the Michigan Attorney General (you can read the appeals court’s remand order here). Despite the absurdity of the fees, do not let this stop you from opting out! Your health is more important, and you are going to end up paying at least 10 times more per month for supplements and health care than the fees Consumers is charging. Moreover, the remand of the case may result in lower fees.

This is a new page. We have a tab, but the link the tab points to must be changed. The second email I am sending will give you this new page.

The one-time fee to keep your analog meter is $69.39. The fee to have a digital meter replace your smart meter is $123.91. If you already have a smart or digital meter on your home, Consumers Energy refuses to replace it with an analog. It is important that you write a certified letter to the company demanding an analog meter to replace your smart or digital meter.
The monthly meter-reading fee is $9.72.

Read more about Judge O’Connell’s decision on our Appeal and Remand page.

 

Consumers Energy Letter Regarding the Opt-Out Program

Below is the text of the initial letter Consumers Energy sends to customers regarding the opt-out program. Notice that there is not a single mention of your right to keep your analog meter. This is one of the reasons why we need you to gather the information under What You Must Do to Keep Your Analog Meter. Here is the text of the letter (click here to view a copy of the actual letter):

Dear ___:
You are receiving this letter because our records indicate you have declined installation of a new advanced meter.  Consumers Energy offers its customers the choice of not having an advanced meter installed on their home and continuing to have the meter read manually each month.

If you choose to not have a new meter installed, you will be enrolled in the Manual Meter Read program and additional costs for each electric meter associated with your account will be charged in accordance with a rate order recently approved by the Michigan Public Service Commission.

Up Front Charge:             $69.39: one-time charge if notice is given prior to meter install, or $123.91: one-time charge if notice is given after the meter is installed
 Monthly Charge:              $9.72: per month for manual meter reading services

We are encouraging customers to choose the advanced meters because of the improved customer service and greater reliability they provide.

We are installing meters throughout the state through 2019.  Should you change your decision and elect to receive an advanced meter, please call our dedicated smart energy customer care team at (888) 862-2199. Should you elect to remain on the Manual meter Read program, charges will be applied to your bill when we reach your area.  You will receive additional communication from us when we begin installing the new advanced meter.

We look forward to hearing from you and appreciate the opportunity to serve you.

Sincerely,
Consumers Energy Smart Energy Program
Tel: 1-888-862-2199
www.consumersEnergy.com/smartenergy

 

More on the Opt-Out

While Consumers Energy is currently allowing residential  customers to keep their current (not necessarily analog) meters, we, as well as insiders in the electric utility industry, feel that this “concession” is unlikely to last for long, for the following reasons: The opt-out approved by the MPSC does not require Consumers to allow customers to keep their analog meters. If Consumer really were interested in allowing people to keep their current meters long-term, this would have been written into the opt-out tariff. It is not. The tariff simply says “non-transmitting meter.” That language covers any meter that doesn’t transmit data to the utility via radiofrequency. Thus, a smart meter with the radiotransmitter turned off qualifies as a non-transmitting meter. Such a meter is not an analog meter, and will cause the same health and privacy problems as a smart meter. Arguably, this means that Consumers Energy can decide at any point that it will no longer allow customers to keep their existing meter and instead install a smart meter with the radiofrequency turned off. However, since the expert witness testimony of Lauren Youngdahl stated that Consumers will allow people to keep their analog, if Consumers decided not to allow them to be kept, they could be sued. Who would win is anyone’s guess. This is why you must get involved, because citizen action can change everything! It did in California, Arizona, Vermont, and Texas.

Interestingly, the opt-out rules state that “In order for a customer to be eligible to participate in this provision, the customer must have a meter that is accessible to Company employees and the customer shall have zero instances of unauthorized use, theft, fraud and/or threats of violence toward Company employee.” A locked meter is still accessible. You have a key, and you can unlock it. It is as accessible as a meter inside your home, and it is not illegal to lock your meter.  Note however, that Consumers might attempt to use this provision as an excuse to deny some customers retention of their analog meter.

If your analog meter malfunctions (a rare occurrence), Consumers Energy will not put another analog meter on. They will only put on a digital meter. This is why you must do the opt-out now! And this is why you must get active and get the word out to your legislators, friends, neighbors, and city.

 

Useful Links and Information

Litigation

Consumers Energy Communications to Customers and Cities

 


Footnotes

1 “For customers who decide they do not want  a smart meter, the Company proposes to provide them with the option to retain their existing meter equipment.” From Consumers Energy Opt-Out Hearings: U-17087, Volume 4, Transcript of Cross-Examination, p 549, lines 2–4, Testimony of Lauren E. Youngdahl."

 

 

Newsletter, Facebook—Stay Up to Date

Stay up to date by subscribing to our newsletter (it comes out every 1 to 4 weeks). We constantly update our website, so check back often. You can find updates and time-sensitive actions to take under our “Alerts and Breaking News” box. We also use Facebook to send out quick news updates. (While we understand the privacy concerns with Facebook, at this point in time it is a useful tool for us, and is a great way to spread the word about smart meters. If you only wish to use Facebook for access to our updates, you can get an account without revealing personal information—it’s all in what you choose to share, and you can give them any name or birthdate you like.)

Our newsletter comes out every 1 to 4 weeks. It will keep you informed and tell you what actions you can take to fight smart meters. Note that most email programs will filter out our newsletter unless you adjust your email settings. Even though you may receive individual emails from us, when we send the newsletter out to a large group, the emails may be placed in a folder other than your inbox. This happened to us! We weren’t even getting our own newsletter.. Please make sure you look for emails from smartmetereducationnetwork@ gmail. com in your Promotions, Spam, Junk, or other folders. Please contact your email provider to learn how to adjust your settings, or search on the internet.

 



Terms to Know

Advanced meter: smart meter (term used by DTE to hide the fact it is a smart meter).

AMI meter and AMI program: another name for the smart meter and the smart meter program. AMI stands for advanced metering infrastructure.

Blood-brain barrier: EMFs can cause the blood-brain barrier to be breached, allowing toxins to enter the brain. Toxin entry is thought to be partially responsible for Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s.

Dirty electricity: spiky, pulsed electromagnetic field generated by smart meters that rides through building wiring and permeates the building’s rooms. Responsible for many of the health problems seen with smart and digital meters.

Electromagnetic fields (EMFs): consist of an electrical field and a magnetic field. Fields are created by the flow of electrical current through the wire, sunlight, etc.  

Electromagnetic frequency: examples are 60 Hz electrical current of your home, RF of a cell phone. Often used interchangeably with electromagnetic field.

Electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS): sensitivity to electromagnetic fields. Symptoms are complex and involve all bodily systems

Hydrogen bonds: Electrostatic bonds that help hold the DNA double helix together. Breakage of hydrogen bonds may cause changes in DNA that can lead to cancer. RF and other EMFs may disrupt the Hydrogen bonds.

Meter upgrade: the installation of an advanced (smart) meter on your home by DTE.

Microwave radiation: the type of radiation emitted by smart meters. Known to cause biological harm.

Non-transmitting meter: another name for the DTE and Consumers opt-out meters.

Opt-out meter: this is a smart meter. The only thing that is different is the radio-transmitter is turned off. It still generates dirty electricity, it still retains the two antennas, and it is only incrementally less harmful to your health. It can still record detailed information about your electrical usage.

Radio-disabled meter: another name for the DTE opt-out meter.

Radio-off meter: another name for the DTE opt-out meter.

Radiofrequency (RF): high-frequency electromagnetic waves in the range of 10 MHz to 300 Ghz. All wireless devices, including smart meters, cell phones, and Wi-Fi emit RF.

Switched mode power supplycontained in all smart meters, it creates dirty electricity.

van der Waals bonds: an extremely weak electromagnetic force that helps hold the DNA double helix together. Breakage of the van der Waals bond may cause changes in DNA that can lead to cancer. RF and other EMFs can disrupt the van der Waals bonds.