FOXe report: Smart meter concerns

FOXe report: Smart meter concerns

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Smart meters have been installed in 1.5 million homes across Michigan. Smart meters have been installed in 1.5 million homes across Michigan.
About 1,900 people have chosen to get an opt-out meter, in which the radio is turned off. About 1,900 people have chosen to get an opt-out meter, in which the radio is turned off.
An engineer tests the radio frequences coming from a smart meter. An engineer tests the radio frequences coming from a smart meter.
(WJBK) - DTE Energy crews have installed smart meters at 1.5 million homes across Michigan. The new meters are an advancement in technology and can be read remotely by radio signals, but some homeowners say the meters are intrusive and dangerous.

For example, a fire in Pennsylvania is believed to have started when a smart meter exploded.

Some homeowners fear the technology will be used for spying by tracking your energy use, even being able to pinpoint when you're not home. National news reports have indicated that is possible.

Others say the meters also cause health problems.

Jeanette Wagner says a smart meter on her previous house in Kentucky left her temporarily paralyzed. She's since moved to Michigan and lives in a hotel.

"I cannot find a house that doesn't have a smart meter on it, so I don't feel safe," she tells FOX 2's Robin Schwartz.

Leslie Panzica-Glapa says her son, Drew, got sick from the smart meter. He has diabetes and she says his blood sugar levels spiked when the meter went in. She says she also experienced insomnia and terrible headaches.

Schwartz took all the concerns to the General Manager of DTE's Advanced Meter Program, Bob Sitkauskas.

"We've got 10,000 employees, two million customers. We're not going to install something that we feel is unsafe," he says. He adds that he uses a smart meter in his own home. 

DTE adds it would never sell the homeowner's readings, which could lead to the aforementioned spying.

An engineer came to Schwartz's home to test the radio frequencies coming from her smart meter. She was told the amount is less than 1 percent of the maximum exposure allowed by federal guidelines. DTE says research proves the smart meters are not a health concern.

Still, others choose to do their own research.

"The research being handed to us by utility companies is going to be skewed. They can get away with telling you their research shows no health dangers, but it's called "interpretive difference," says Wagner.

Panzica-Glapa chose to remove the meter from her home after her and her son experienced those various ailments. DTE has since threatened a lawsuit.

DTE does, however, have  a program that gives customers an option.

Homeowners who don't want a smart meter can opt out, and so far about 1,900 people have. For a fee they can get an opt-out meter, which is the same meter with the radio turned off.

Participating in the opt-out program costs about 70 dollars, plus another $9.80 a month.

Some say the opt-out meter is just as bad, though, because it creates so-called "dirty electricity."

An appeal is pending for DTE to allow people with health problems to keep old analog meters, instead of the opt-out meters. Some are still fighting to get smart meters banned altogether.

If you are interested in the opt-out program, call 1-800-477-4747.

Online:
michiganstopsmartmeters.com
www.smartmetereducationnetwork.com
stopsmartmeters.org
www.dteenergy.com

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