MICHIGAN-Smart meters and silent hikes

  • Doug Spade and Mike Clement: Smart meters and silent hikes

  • Utility policy changes in Michigan a cause for concern
  • Utility policy changes in Michigan a cause for concern

The smart meters are coming, and we are none too happy about it. No, we have not been hanging out in Area 51. Nor do we represent the Tin Foil Hat Guild. But Consumers Energy is not our favorite utility these days. The pending arrival of smart meters is one reason. This month’s rate increase is another. The one the Michigan Public Service Commission (PSC) has not yet approved. You didn’t know about it? You can thank the Michigan legislature for letting it happen. And after the smart meters are in place, newer, even bigger increases will be possible.

It used to be utilities could not raise rates until the PSC determined they were justified — a process that often took up to a year. Unwilling to wait that long, electric and gas companies convinced the legislature in 2008 to change the law. Through self-implementation, utilities can now start imposing higher charges months before the PSC makes their final ruling. And on June 4, Consumers Energy did just that — self-implementing — very, very quietly — a $110 million rate increase. No public announcement. No press release. Even the PSC — the agency that is supposed to be looking out for the public’s interest — stayed silent.

All of this really bothered Public Service Commissioner Greg White, who wanted to know why the PSC was not more forthcoming. According to the MIRS news service in Lansing, an agency spokesperson said no announcement is required until the PSC rules on the full $160 million rate hike request Consumers Energy filed this past December. That probably won’t happen for another five or six months. Aside from this column, about the only way customers will know their rates have gone up is by looking at their next bill. The company says it will include a message about the increase with it.

It will cost most households several dollars more per month and pay for plant upgrades, maintenance and repairs. But it will also be used to buy and install smart meters which, as this newspaper recently reported, will start happening in Lenawee County next year.

Smart meters have digital displays and let the power company know precisely how much electricity you are using every hour. No longer will a meter reader gather monthly usage data. Instead it will be automatically collected, and a communication chip in the meter will transmit the current readings directly to the utility. A very nice lady at a Consumers Energy call center tried to convince us how wonderful it will be for people to go online to see these hourly updates. We would prefer to read the meter ourselves and get the same information through a simple mathematical formula called subtraction.

Instantaneous data collection from smart meters is too Big Brotherish for our taste. Analysis will show when people use more electricity, and the utilities can then seek much higher rates during those times. Some parts of Michigan already have these “time of use” rates in place, and the PSC is encouraging even greater use of them. Customers signing up for this option pay a much higher rate for power usage during certain hours and a lower rate at others. But it could easily become mandatory, making air conditioning or heat at times extremely expensive. Same for cooking for doing the laundry.


ARIZONA-ACC “Smart” Meter Decision Appealed in Superior Court

ACC “Smart” Meter Decision Appealed in Superior Court

Information & Perspective by Warren Woodward

Sedona, Arizona ~ June, 26, 2015

           Last May I appealed “smart” meter Decision # 75047 made by the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC). The Decision was illegal in many ways. Plus the commissioners lied repeatedly throughout the Decision.

           I detailed all the lies and lawlessness in my appeal to the ACC (here: http://images.edocket.azcc.gov/docketpdf/0000163221.pdf ), but the commissioners denied my appeal by not responding to it within the 20 days specified in law.

           I then brought the ACC’s serial lawbreaking to the attention of the Arizona Attorney General’s Office but, typically, it was not interested in enforcing the law, so my only recourse was to file an appeal in Superior Court which I did yesterday. Below is the introduction to my case.

           I don’t know what penalties violation of all the laws listed below may incur, but I do know that violation of A.R.S. 13-2311 (“Fraudulent schemes and practices; wilful concealment”) is a felony with a possible one year jail sentence.

The reason(s) for my request:

I am appealing ACC Decision # 75047 under A.R.S. 40-254. I am an Intervenor in ACC Docket # E-01345A-13-0069 in which the Decision was made. I appealed Decision # 75047 to the ACC commissioners but was denied since the ACC commissioners did not respond within the time period set forth in A.R.S. 40-253. In Decision # 75047, the ACC commissioners violated A.R.S. 40-253 multiple times and in multiple ways. Also, the ACC commissioners lied repeatedly in Decision # 75047’s Findings of Fact, thus violating A.R.S. 13-2311. The Conclusions of Law in Decision # 75047 are therefore contrary to law. All of these violations are detailed in my Appeal of Decision # 75047 which is included with this Motion as Exhibit # 1.

Superior Court is a last resort for me. As demonstrated in Exhibit # 1, I told the ACC commissioners they were violating 40-253 and explained how. As demonstrated in Exhibit # 1, I told the ACC commissioners repeatedly, both before and after their Decision was made, that they were lying (committing fraud) in the Findings of Fact yet nevertheless each one of them signed their names to the lies and would not reconsider despite being given that opportunity via my Appeal. After my Appeal was denied, I spoke with Don Conrad, Chief of the Attorney General’s Criminal Division, about this matter. He was not interested in the ACC’s lawlessness. Hence this Motion to Superior Court.

Exhibit # 1 will also demonstrate the commissioners’ violations of, and disregard for, A.R.S. 40-421, A.A.C. R14-2-208.A.2, A.R.S. 40-361.B, A.R.S. 40-321.A, A.A.C. R14 -2-209.A.9, A.A.C. R14-2-210.A.1, A.R.S. 40-422(A), A.A.C. R14-2-201.25, A.R.S. 40-203, and A.R.S. 40-334.A & B.

In addition to Exhibit # 1, I have included Exhibits # 2, # 3 and # 4. Exhibit # 2 is another example of the lengths the ACC will go to hide its misdeeds and not follow the law, in this case the Public Records Law. Exhibit # 3 shows a criminal conspiracy afoot at the ACC and bears directly on Decision # 75047, Finding of Fact # 6. Exhibit # 4 shows additional questionable ethics at the ACC concerning this matter.

In sum, as I wrote in the introduction of my Appeal to the ACC commissioners, it is “…obvious that ACC Decision # 75047 is arbitrary and capricious, and that the ACC has abused what discretion it may have had,” and, it is “ … obvious the ACC has no regard for the law and that Decision # 75047 is completely invalid.”

I am acting in the public interest and not for monetary gain or any commercial purpose.

I am asking the Court to:

Vacate ACC Decision #75047; grant the relief requested in my appeal of Decision #75047; and find Bob Burns, Tom Forese, Doug Little, Susan Smith, and Bob Stump guilty of willfully violating and/or disregarding A.R.S. 13-2311, A.R.S. 40-253, A.R.S. 40-421, A.A.C. R14-2-208.A.2, A.R.S. 40-361.B, A.R.S. 40-321.A, A.A.C. R14 -2-209.A.9, A.A.C. R14-2-210.A.1, A.R.S. 40-422(A), A.A.C. R14-2-201.25, A.R.S. 40-203, and A.R.S. 40-334.A & B. Since the commissioners did not act in the public interest by knowingly and willfully violating and disregarding Arizona law, they should also be held personally accountable as individuals and not just as commissioners.