Dozens protest in Ann Arbor over installation of smart meters

Posted at 8:58 PM, Aug 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-14 20:59:21-04

Dozens gathered at a home in Ann Arbor to protest the installation of smart meters by DTE Energy. 

A group of customers were facing electric shutoffs today after telling DTE the devices are making them sick. 

"People that get sick from smart meters are not crazy," said Mary Karen McClellan, who says her health suffered when the device was installed at her home in 2012.

"I got sick immediately," she told 7 Action News. "Headaches, fatigue, dizziness. I called up DTE and they came out the next day and took the meter and I was living happily in my house until they came back last summer and put another smart meter on."

Eight residents were facing shutoffs Monday, according to Linda Kurtz, who is part of the citizen group, Smart Meter Education Network

"We feel that those among us who are electro sensitive are like the canary in the coal mine," said David Sheldon, who was among those at the protest. "For a minority, about 5 percent of the public, it will cause immediate health problems," Sheldon said. 

Kurtz denied DTE workers access at her home. She said she paid an opt out fee two years ago but was among those receiving the shutoff notice. 

A DTE spokesperson said analog meters are obsolete and no longer maintained and that is why smart meters must be installed.

Among other points made by the utility: the opt out fee only covers the cost of reading the meter and does not prevent a smart meter from being installed.

In addition, DTE will shut off the wireless signal from the meter to DTE but customers must give workers access to the equipment it owns or face a shutoff.

"I would like DTE to provide an analog opt out for every customer who wants one," said Kurtz. "If they will not do that for every customer that wants one, then for people like me, who have to have one in order to live our lives without being so debilitated that we are non-functional."

Kurtz said four of the eight customers had their power shutoff as of 7 p.m. on Monday. 

A bill in the state legislature, HB 4220, would require utilities to offer customers the choice of analog devices.