Michigan PSC review supports smart meters with an opt-out


Lansing, MI, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — July 3, 2012 – In a review of smart meter deployment in the state, Michigan Public Service Commission (PSC) staff have confirmed that smart meters are quickly becoming the primary replacement meter to the existing electromechanical meters because they are more accurate, enhance outage response and offer opportunities for customer energy management – the traditional electromechanical meter is obsolete and currently not in production.

Further, the staff sees prudent utility investments in AMI as a first step toward realizing a modern grid and recommends that the Commission regulated utilities in Michigan continue to assess smart grid technologies as part of their efforts to improve the reliability and efficiency of the grid.

However, given that a minority of customers has expressed concerns about smart meters, these people should be allowed to opt-out, with the opt-out provision based on cost of service principles.

The report is a response to the approximately 400 public comments about smart meters that were received by the PSC, the majority expressing concerns pertaining to health and safety, privacy/data security, cyber security and bill impacts.

Regarding health and safety the report says that from a careful review of the available literature and studies, the health risk from the installation and operation of metering systems using radio transmitters is determined to be insignificant. The appropriate federal health and safety regulations provide assurance that smart meters represent a safe technology.

However, on customer privacy and data additional consideration is required to ensure consistent protection. All stakeholders should implement privacy policy considerations, and each utility should adopt an annual independent security audit.

Utilities should also develop and implement a new education strategy similar to those used in other jurisdictions so that the results reflect high levels of customer engagement, acceptance and enthusiasm with their smart meter program.

Finally the staff has developed a smart grid vision for Michigan. Objectives, with which future smart grid investments from utilities should correlate in order to deliver transparent and identifiable benefits to ratepayers, include accommodating advanced generation and storage options; enabling informed participation by all customers; supporting new products, services, and markets; optimizing existing assets, increasing efficiency and improving reliability; and operating resiliently against physical and cyber attacks.