Smart Grid is the future, no doubt. Smart Meters will be part of the smart grid of the future. However the marketing spin by utilities/vendors as why smart meters are necessary - is part of the problem with the deployment.
From the quote of DTE's response -
"Sitkauskas ends his editorial by recounting some of the benefits smart meters bring to Michigan, including jobs, more accurate bills, better outage management, remote connect/disconnect for faster customer service and up-to-the-minute information for tracking and reducing energy consumption"
1. Smart meters, may add temp jobs while deploying, but the also eliminate meter readers and once the deployment is complete - the jobs go away.
2. More accurate bills? That begs the question are the customers being overcharged now? How has accuracy truly improved (from the endusers point of veiw?)
3. Better outage management, utilities often argue that they have a high reliability. The outage management implies reliability is lower. Outages caused by storms can be detected without smart meters.
4. Faster connect/disconnect, so it is easier to turn off the power to the house if their computer system thinks the bill hasn't been paid. No knock on the door to warn and verify customer. If I remember correctly, it was in Detroit that one or more seniors FROZE to death because of disconnected meters.
And then there is the concerns of hackers compromizing the connect/disconnect feature of smart meters to attack the grid with a "Superbowl" like (flush) flashing event.
5. Very few of the utility companies have updated their backend IT systems to allow upto minute usage for customers. Perhaps 15 minute or 30 minutes at the best. But they are not their yet. How can they argue it is a benefit when it isn't available.
Energy consumption is price sensitive to some degree - but customers also expect to use a minimal amount. The argument for smart meters helping with consumption - really goes after the heavy users of power and not the seniors, or average home owners. And it really only helps those that are tech savy.
Smart Meters are needed as part of the smart grid, but they should be viewed much the same as smart transformers, smart reconnectors, smart capacitor banks, etc. Part of the infrastructure that utilities must invest in as part of the future.
The average customer doesn't worry about the items DTE listed as benefits.