I’m starting off this new year of 2015 with a touchy subject that I’ve never written about. Let me begin with a little personal information about one of my past side jobs. For the past seven years I have been a spokesperson for Consumers Energy and recently DTE, and in this period I have asked repeatedly to have a voice of authority join me on my radio show to inform consumers about the safety of smart meters, to ease the minds of homeowners who have them installed.
I must also tell you that my yearly contracts with these energy providers have not been renewed and now I feel free to give you my opinions. Please keep in mind that I am no expert on this subject of smart meters and it appears that no expert wants to talk with me so I’ll write about the facts I have accumulated from reading and talking with current owners.
First, let me address the issue of privacy. Is it such a case that we have to be concerned because the utility will know how much energy is being used by a specific appliance? Do you really think that your utility will shut off the power to your home if you use too much electricity? Some people think that a utility will be able to listen to their private conversations going on inside their home.
There is the serious subject of a person’s health. Some people blame the smart meter for possible health issues they are going through and yet modern medicine has failed to prove this a fact.
Now, there are other issues and I would like to hear from you as to what your impressions are on this subject. I know that utilities across this country have been given millions upon millions of dollars to install this product and we all know what big dollars can do with ethics imperfections. Is this the case when all a company wants to do is eliminate the need and expense of a meter reader? Would they dare to place a smart meter at a home that can cause privacy and health concerns? I won’t know the answer to this question until an expert calls me from DTE or Consumers Energy. I have seen little in the media in regards to the plus or minuses on this subject. Is that because they are afraid of offending our utilities. What about our Public Service Commission in Lansing? Is it not involved in such a controversial product?
What’s your experience?
You can go to your computer and Google smart meter complaints and read about how big an issue this is in other parts of the country. There are towns that have an ordinance refusing the installation of such product. Some areas where the utility installer has been arrested for trespassing and some installers jumping a fence to make the installation. Now, I understand that if you refuse to have one installed you will be charged dollars for that privilege or if you want one removed from your house that will cost you as well. It certainly appears that it is the ambition of utility companies across America to install a smart meter in every home. I know it will save a lot of money and remove thousands of meter readers from the payroll. What I don’t know is a lot and I would like to learn the facts. That can’t happen until someone high up reads this column and says,” Have so and so call Joe Gagnon.”
Way back in 1972 I went through this sort of controversy when Consumer Reports magazine stated that microwave ovens were leaking and causing harm to the new purchaser. It was all proven to be false in short order but it did keep me on the road checking microwave emissions across the country. What we need now is to have our major media outlets get on the job of educating the public. Stay tuned.
Joe Gagnon can be heard at 8 a.m., Saturdays on WAAM 1600. You can e-mail your problems and questions on appliances to firstname.lastname@example.org