ROYAL OAK, Mich. (WXYZ) – An Oakland County Circuit Court Judge has ruled that DTE does not need to restore power to a Royal Oak couple’s home.
In her decision, Judge Nanci Grant said Andrea McNinch and her husband didn’t show why they were able to tolerate having a smart meter outside of their home for 3 years, but suddenly couldn’t.
McNinch said she didn’t want to have a smart meter outside of her home, because it was starting to make her feel ill, and gave her migraine headaches.
“I started to not feel well again,” said McNinch. “I suffer from migraines and they started to come back and I couldn’t figure out what it was. And then other people in the community, and I have clients all over the globe, and other people started having these weird symptoms.”
In June 2014, McNinch called DTE and asked for an old analog meter to be installed at her home. DTE told her that she was able to opt out of the smart meter program, meaning they would turn off the radio signal the meter emits.
“We have a choice, that is our opt-out program,” said Bob Sitkauskas, General Manager, Advanced Metering Infrastructure at DTE. “That is the AMI meter with the radio shut off. So that meter is not transmitting whatsoever. We have to go there and physically read that meter.”
McNinch says she wasn’t pleased with that option.
“It’s a false opt-out program, in that I’m not allowed the choice to have an analog meter,” said McNinch.
In October she took the smart meter off, and had her own analog meter installed.
Installing your own meter is against state law, and DTE says it poses a safety risk because they can’t certify that it was properly installed.
The Michigan Public Service Commission held a hearing on the matter on December 18. DTE cut the power to McNinch’s home that day even though the MPSC didn’t make a decision. Four days later, the MPSC ruled that DTE’s safety concerns were legitimate and could discontinue service.
Following that decision, McNinch and her husband sued in Oakland County Circuit Court, claiming they should immediately have the power restored, but Judge Grant sided with DTE.
DTE insists the smart meters are safe and says they have installed them at more than 2 million homes. The company says they will finish installing them at more than 4 million homes some time in 2017.
According to DTE, customers who choose to opt out will have a sticker placed on their meter and will be able to read on the meter’s digital screen that the customer has opted out.