DTE Energy said in January that it had no plans to allow customers who didn't want smart meters to opt out. But according to a story in the Detroit Free Press this week, the utility has reversed that stance and asked state regulators to approve its opt-out plan, which would require customers to pay an upfront fee and a smaller monthly fee.
Earlier this year, a number of Detroit area communities were passing moratoriums or similar resolutions banning smart meter installations until DTE offered an opt-out choice for customers concerned about possible health effects from the meters' radio transmissions and privacy issues. Responding to a moratorium passed by the Sterling Heights City Council at the time, DTE said no way.
But the utility has just proposed a plan that would charge opt-out customers an upfront fee of $87 and a $15 monthly fee. The proposal is awaiting approval from the Michigan Public Service Commission.
The utility has installed 825,000 meters and plans to have a total of 1.2 million in operation by the end of next year. DTE spokesman Scott Simons was quoted in the news story as saying the utility was anticipating that less than 1% of its customers would choose the opt-out plan, which translates to "basically a few thousand."
Earlier this year, the commission told utilities to provide plans for protecting the privacy of customer information, if they planned to allow customers opt out and how they would recover program costs. DTE has said smart meters are safe in terms of health and safety and privacy, but that it would cooperate fully with the commission.
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