DTE Opt-Out Program
- What Is the Opt-Out Meter?
- The Problems with the Opt-Out Meter
- How to Respond to DTE’s Opt-Out Letters
- Should I Allow DTE to Install the Opt-Out Meter?
- What Should I Do If I Already Have the Opt-Out Meter?
- The Costs of the Opt-Out
- What Can I Do Immediately?
- DTE’s New Opt-Out Brochure: More of Your Opt-Out Questions Answered
- DTE's Letter Accompanying the Opt-Out Brochure
- Stories of Two Families Who Removed Their Opt-Out Meter
What Is the Opt-Out Meter?
What Is the Opt-Out Meter?
Except for the disabling of the radiofrequency transmitters,
the smart meter and the opt-out meter are exactly the same.
DTE lies to customers, telling them that they must pay an opt-out fee for each meter.
If you call DTE about the opt-out, they will send someone to your home
within a few hours to a few days and put a smart meter on your home.
You can opt out of the gas meter at no extra charge
DTE’s so-called opt-out meter is just a smart meter with the wireless turned off. Turning off the two wireless (radiofrequency) transmitters will not solve the health or privacy problems associated with these meters. Wireless transmissions are not the only health hazard of a smart meter. Smart meters—whether or not their radio-transmitter is disabled—generate dirty electricity (line noise) that travels through your home’s wiring, creating a harmful magnetic field that radiates out into your living area. People who have the opt-out meter are experiencing the same health problems as people with smart meters, just to a slightly lesser degree. Some families have removed their opt-out meters and replaced them with analog meters because the opt-out meter made them very ill. (Click here to learn more about why the smart meter and the opt-out meter generate dirty electricity.)
The opt-out meter can still collect the same fine-grained usage data as a smart meter, and it forces you to pay for something you do not need: you already have a meter on your home!
Let us reiterate: DTE’s opt-out meter is still a smart meter. The only difference between the DTE “opt-out” smart meter and the “regular” smart meter is that the two wireless radio transmitters are turned off in the opt-out meter. Except for the disabling of the radio transmittesr, the smart meter and the opt-out meter are exactly the same. (By the way, DTE admitted as much before the Michigan Public Service Commission.) Both meters generate harmful dirty electricity. You can learn more about the transmitters on our Smart Meters 101 page.
Nonetheless, DTE lies in its opt-out brochure, telling customers that they can opt out of a smart (advanced) meter.
DTE fails to answer some basic questions in its new opt-out brochure, such as
- What is an opt-out meter?
- Why would I want to enroll in the opt-out program? How will it benefit me?
- Do opt-out meters affect my health?
- Do opt-out meters still gather the same usage information as the radio-on smart meter?
Read below for our answers to those questions. DTE’s new opt-out brochure and our responses to it will also give you a good starting point for understanding the opt-out program and its inadequacies.
The opt-out meter is also called the non-transmitting meter, radio-disabled meter, radio-off meter, non-transmitting AMI meter, and non-communicating meter.
The Problems with the Opt-Out Meter
We all wish that the opt-out meter would solve the health issues we experience with smart meters, but it does not. While the opt-out smart meter will no longer send radiofrequency (microwave signals) to the utility, it still contains three very harmful components:
- The switched mode power supply, which generates dirty electricity (line noise). This spiky, erratically pulsing electromagnetic current is as damaging to your health as the microwave radiation emitted by the radio-on smart meter. Some people have removed their opt-out meters because of the devastating effects on their and their families’ health. They thought that the meter would be safe because the radio-transmitter had been disabled, but their health still deteriorated substantially. Learn more here about why the smart meter and the opt-out smart meter generate dirty electricity. Read this page to learn about some of the health problems people are experiencing from the opt-out meter. Read the stories of two people who removed their opt-out meter because of the health problems it was causing. Also read Rebecca’s Story, Cynthia’s Story, and Linda’s Story.
- A ZigBee 2.4 GHz wireless radio that connects wirelessly with “smart” appliances and your and your neighbors’ smart gas meters. DTE does not turn off this radiofrequency device off. Therefore, the meter is not non-transmitting.
- The main radiofrequency (RF) antenna. Even though DTE disables the meter’s ability to transmit data to the utility, the antenna contained in the meter still receives RF signals from the DTE and all the other meters in the area. This means that you are still subjected to the wireless signals, albeit to a lesser degree than if the transmitter were transmitting. For people who are electro-sensitive, this is unsupportable. Moreover, because the antenna is picking up signals, it can still send radiofrequency through your home’s wiring. Learn more about the health issues people are experiencing from the opt-out meter here.
The radio-off opt-out meter does not solve the privacy issue either, because it collects the same detailed data on your electricity usage as does the smart meter. So, DTE is asking you to pay a $67.20 one-time fee, plus $9.80 per month to put on your home a meter that will still devastate your health and is only incrementally less damaging than a smart meter.
Finally, it costs nothing to leave an analog meter on your home. It would cost next to nothing to replace your unwanted smart meter with an analog meter. Nonetheless, DTE insists on replacing your fully functioning analog meter with a radio-off smart meter. When asked why, the company’s only reply is the nonresponsive, “DTE is fully committed to installing AMI on all its residential and commercial sites.”
How to Respond to DTE’s Opt-Out
Letters & Phone Calls
Letters & Phone Calls
Should I Allow DTE to Install the Opt-Out Meter?
I Still Have My Analog Meter
The safest thing to do for your health is to keep your analog meter. If you don’t want DTE to collect data on you, you will also want to keep your analog meter. These two pages give you all the information you need: How to Respond to DTE Letters and Keep the Meter Off Your Home.
I Have a Smart Meter
If you already have a smart meter on your home, you can:
- Leave the meter on.
- Get the opt-out meter. It will be somewhat safer for your health, though not terrifically so. For a filter that will very effectively filter out the dirty electricity, please contact Linda Kurtz via our email: SmartMeterEducationNetwork@gmail DOT com (replace “DOT” with a period).
- Do what others have done and replace your smart meter with an analog meter. See our page on Replacing Your Smart or Opt-Out Meter.
What Should I Do If I Already Have the Opt-Out Meter?
If you already have an opt-out meter on your home, you can:
- Leave the meter on. Be aware that these meters cause many health problems over the short and long term and also shorten the life of your appliances and have the potential to cause fires. For a filter that will very effectively filter out the dirty electricity, please contact Linda Kurtz via our email: SmartMeterEducationNetwork@gmail DOT com (replace “DOT” with a period).
- Do what others have done and replace your opt-out meter with an analog meter. See our page on Replacing Your Smart or Opt-Out Meter.
The Costs of the Opt-Out
If you retain your analog meter, you cannot be charged the $67.20 opt-out fee because DTE does not have to replace your meter. The $67.20 is a one-time fee for meter replacement. Why does DTE insist on replacing your analog meter if you want to opt out? The meter will be read the same way whether it’s analog or digital.
If DTE does begin charging you the opt-out fee, it can only charge you one fee per customer address. This means $67.20 to disable the radiofrequency transmitter and $9.80 per month—total—to read all your meters, including the gas meter. DTE states this on pages 384 and 385 of the transcript of the DTE opt-out hearing.
You can opt out of the gas meter at the same time you opt out of the electric meter. Don’t let them tell you otherwise. DTE customer service representatives are not very literate about the smart meter program, and some don’t even know there is a gas smart meter. You will not be charged extra for this.
While the opt-out fee is unfair, and a real burden for those with low incomes, it is a small price to pay to help retain your health. To put an end to these fees, and to get the right to have an analog meter on your home, you must write your state representative and senator about the Analog Meter Choice Bill.
For more information on the cost of the opt-out and on the AMI program in general, see this page. Learn why literally millions of dollars will be saved by DTE and its customers if customers who want to opt-out keep their analog meters.
What Can I Do Immediately?
- Lock or cage your meter. It is the only way you will prevent installation in the short term. A sign is not enough. A letter to DTE is not enough. DTE has installed smart meters on the homes of many people who have written letters or put signs next to their meters. Click here for information.
- Only sign up for the opt-out program as outlined here. Do not give up your rights via a phone call to DTE. Put it in writing! Note: Five individuals have appealed the opt-out program to the Michigan Court of Appeals. DTE should not force installation until this case is decided.
- Begin to make contact with others who are keeping their analogs. The only way we are going to prevent DTE from forcing installations is if we all support each other and work as a unit as DTE tries to force installation of smart meters on our individual homes. Be sure to contact us and let us know what you are doing!
- If you have health problems, get your doctor to write a letter to DTE. DTE will ignore it, but it will be on file, serving as notice that you cannot have the meter on your home for health reasons.
DTE Energy’s New Opt-Out Brochure and Letter
We know that your letters, phone calls, and meter locks are having a big impact on DTE. As of May 2014, if you state your intention to DTE to not take one of their smart meters, they will send you a toughly worded letter regarding the opt-out, as well as a silly and inadequate brochure about their opt-out program. Below is a complete transcription of the brochure. There’s nothing friendly about it (unlike their brochures about the wonders of smart meters), and it’s clearly designed to discourage opt-outs. Our comments and replies to each item in their brochure are in italics. To see a copy of the brochure, click here. Following our transcription of the brochure is a transcription of the letter that accompanies it, also with our commentary.
First, let’s note that this brochure leaves out some very basic questions and information:
- What is an opt-out meter?
- Why would I want to enroll in the opt-out program? How will it benefit me?
- Do opt-out meters affect my health?
- Do opt-out meters still gather the same usage information as the radio-on advanced (smart) meter?
Second, it is clear that the most important item to DTE is to state its customer service number—three times! Clearly they are tired of receiving letters stating that you will opt out but will not accept their opt-out meter.
Read this entire page to see how DTE treats the question of whether you can keep your analog meter.
The second line of DTE’s letter accompanying the brochure says, “We want you to know that DTE Energy values you as a customer and genuinely appreciates your concerns.” See whether you agree.
DTE's Brochure About the Opt-Out
Below is the language from DTE’s new brochure, with our comments in italics.
Click here to see a copy of the full brochure:
DTE AMI Opt-Out Program
Q. If I do not want to participate in the Advanced Metering Program can I opt out?
A. Yes. DTE Energy offers an Opt Out option to residential electric customers who wish not to participate in the advanced metering program.
1. DTE’s statement is false. If you take an opt-out meter, you are participating in the advanced metering (AMI) program: The opt-out meter is an advanced (smart) meter. The opt-out program is not an opt-out of smart meters. It is only an opt-out of receiving a meter that transmits radiofrequency to the utility. The meter still receives signals and still contains another radio-transmitter and antenna.Opt-out meters still generate dirty electricity that is as harmful to health as the radiofrequency and still gather detailed usage data. Read more here.
2. Notice that DTE never, ever calls the Itron Centron smart meter a “smart meter.” They only call the meters “advanced meters” in an attempt to mask what they are installing. Smart meters have received widespread publicity due to their health effects, and a web search will quickly turn up thousands of reports, but a web search of “advanced meter” will not return any results on health on the first page. Never once in DTE’s literature will you hear the word “smart.” Obviously, their literature is not intended to be transparent to the customer and make it easy for them to learn more about the meters. DTE’s repudiation of the term “smart” is especially interesting in light of the fact that “smart” everything is trendy and the name of the game. Nearly every other utility has called them “smart meters” (although there is now a trend toward calling them “advanced meters” or “AMI meters” for the same reasons DTE has chosen an alternate term).
The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) is totally in bed with them on this. During the cross-examination of DTE Energy witness Robert Sitkauskas in the DTE opt-out case, U-17053 (4 T p 528), Patricia Barone, attorney for the MPSC, asked Sitkauskas the following: “And if the customer who had opted out left your service and a new customer was at that location who did not want to opt out, would the Company, the Company's plan then be to replace the analog meter with the smart meter?” [emphasis added]. Sitkauskas, answered, “With an AMI meter, yes, ma'am.” And Barone, like a toady, apologized, saying, “Sorry. If I said smart meter I meant my questions to refer to AMI.” Sitkauskas said, “I prefer you not to use ‘smart.’ ‘Advanced meter,’ yes.” She or he who dictates the terminology has a huge say in the outcome.
Q. How do I enroll in the Opt-Out Program?
A. You must be the customer of record to enroll in the program and contact our Customer Service Line at 800.477.4747.
See below about opting out by means other than a phone call.
Q. Will I have to pay a fee to enroll in the Opt-Out Program?
A. Yes. Customers who enroll in the Opt-Out Program are required to pay the following fees for each site enrolled in the program:
- A $67.20 initial one-time fee to install a non-transmitting AMI meter
- A $9.80 monthly charge for a manual meter reading
1. If you do not enroll in their opt-out program as it is constituted (i.e., take the radio-off smart meter), then there is no $67.20 fee. The $67.20 one-time fee is for disabling one of the radio-transmitters on the smart meter. If you keep your analog, there’s no transmitter to disable and no need for a technician to visit your home. By keeping your analog meter, you save yourself and DTE time and money. In our brief and reply brief before the Michigan Public Service Commission, we pointed out the fact that it is literally millions of dollars cheaper for DTE to leave on analog meters, even if customers later take a smart meter or an opt-out meter. The judge completely ignored our evidence.
2. DTE offers no incentives here—no benefits, no chance to win a laptop or tickets to the Lions. It’s designed to make you wonder why on earth would anyone want to enroll in the opt-out program. And, of course, you don’t want to enroll in the DTE opt-out program, not as it’s presently constituted, because your health will be severely affected and your privacy still compromised.
3. There’s nothing in this brochure to explain what an opt-out meter is and to try to incentivize you to take one.
Q. Can I keep the old analog meter?
No. Analog meters are obsolete and will no longer be ordered.
1. “No.” Emphatic and unfriendly.
2. Given the fact that millions of people still have their analog meters, one could hardly call them “obsolete.”
3. They don’t need to “order” an analog; it’s already on your home. Analog meters can last for 80 years or more. Analog meters that have been on homes since the 1960s, in areas served by DTE, are still metering electricity without a hitch.
4. Note that the use the word “old” rather than “existing” when referring to analog meters.
5. Clearly we are having an impact. The fact that they have made this brochure and included this questions shows this.
Q. If an advanced meter is already installed and I want to opt out, what should I do?
A. Call our Customer Service Liner at 800.477.4747
Q. Is there a way I can enroll in the Opt-Out Program without calling the Customer Service Line?
A. No. You must call the Customer Service Line 800.477.4747 in order to request enrollment in the program.
Again, we know we are having an impact here. They have been getting many, many letters stating that the customer refuses the smart meter / opt-out meter.
Notice that they have stated the enrollment number three times in this brochure. Nary a word about the health effects, not a single statement regarding what an opt-out meter actually is and how it’s different from the regular AMI meter.
DTE's Letter Accompanying the Opt-Out Brochure
Here is DTE's letter. Our comments are interpolated in italics. To see an original copy of this letter, click here. You do not need to respond to this letter. Learn more about why you don’t need to respond by reading about Letter #3 on our page How to Respond to DTE Letters.
You recently contacted us regarding the installation of a new advanced meter. We want you to know that DTE Energy values you as a customer and genuinely appreciates your concerns.
DTE is currently upgrading [there’s that word again!] all of its residential and commercial meters to advanced meters [notice, they never use the term “smart meter”]. The enclosed brochure has information on our program. You may also find additional information and answers to more specific questions on our web site at www.dteenergy.com.
DTE remains confident in the safety, security and benefits provided by advanced meters [it is amazing that they continue to make this statement, given the flood of phone calls and letters they have received over the past several years]. However, some customers have requested to have the ability to opt out of our advanced meter program. In this case, residential customers that choose to voluntarily opt out of this program may do so by calling DTE Energy at 1-800-477-4747 [and wait on hold for 20 to 40 minutes for an operator who will probably give you incorrect information and/or wrongly put you down as signing up for the opt-out, even though all you did was request information]. As a participant of the Opt-Out Program, the following fees will be assessed to your account:
- $67.20 AMI Opt-Out Initial Fee
- $9.80 AMI Opt-Out Monthly Charge
Please be advised that analog meter are no longer available to DTE customers. Analog meters are obsolete and currently not in production. The Michigan Public Service Commission has approved DTE’s Opt-Out Program to allow customers to have a non-transmitting (radio-off) digital meter, only. [This misstates the case. The Commission approved a radio-off smart meter; smart meters are digital, but to say that it approved a digital meter is an incomplete rendering of the decision and of what DTE petitioned for. DTE's statement, of course, is designed to get you to believe that what you are getting is not a smart meter, when, in fact, it is. It is a smart meter with the radio that transmits wirelessly to the utility disabled. DTE has been more than explicit about this in all of its filings with the Commission and the Court of Appeals. It only hides this when communicating with its customers, whom it “values.”] The terms under which you accept your electrical service do not permit you, or any customer, to unilaterally select individual component pieces of equipment used to deliver or measure electricity. [See our appeal page. In brief: 1. The opt-out is supposed to be an opt-out of AMI meters. Because it is not, it is not legal. 2. The opt-out makes no exception for individuals covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act. 3. By statute, DTE does not have the right to install a surveillance device, which is what this meter is. 4. For many of us there is no choice: Our health is so severely affected by these meters that we cannot take either the smart meter with the radio on, or the smart meter with the radio off. It is for this reason that people are removing the smart and opt-out meters from their homes. Oh, by the way, “DTE Energy values you as a customer and genuinely appreciates your concerns.”]
We hope this information answers your questions and alleviates your concerns, and we thank you for taking the time to contact us.
The Advanced Metering Team
Stories of Two Families Who Removed
Their Opt-Out Meter
Their Opt-Out Meter
Families Have Removed Their Opt-Out Meter Because It Was Making Them Ill
Think the opt-out meter is a safe bet? So did some other families. Here are two stories of families that removed their opt-out meter because of the health problems it caused them. Both families experienced a marked decrease in symptoms within a day of removal. Click here for a partial list of symptoms people have experienced from radio-off smart meters.
1. Family with Young Children Removes Opt-Out Meter
A family was moving from a home with an analog meter to a home with a smart meter. The mother says, “Knowing the dangers of radiation from a smart meter, I opted out thinking it was all going to be fine because we wouldn't have the smart meter transmitting wirelessly.” DTE installed the opt-out meter, the family moved in, and the next day the mother and one of her children woke up with flu-like symptoms. Both then proceeded to throw up. The mother also awoke with a headache. She thought it was perhaps something that they had eaten. That same day, her and her children’s ears began ringing. At first her husband did not experience any problems and thought maybe it was all in his wife’s head, but a month later he began spending more time at home and began suffering as well. The children were agitated during the day, and also when they slept. The toddler rubbed her ears a lot, though she didn't have an ear infection. The mother also experienced the following problems:
- intermittent brain fog
- ears: buzzing, constant pain and pressure and feeling like her ears were going to pop
- pressure at her temples
- face felt puffy
The mother’s symptoms were even stronger when she was near the opt-out meter, which was attached to her kitchen wall. She thought there must be something wrong with the opt-out meter, that perhaps its radio-transmitter had not been turned off. She called DTE. They came out and showed her the radio-off sticker on the meter and said there was no problem with the meter. An opt-out meter is still a smart meter, just one with the radio-transmitter disabled. Click here to learn why the opt-out meter causes health problems. The symptoms continued, and the mother called DTE daily for over a week because she and her family were being harmed. DTE would not listen, and one supervisor told her she must be one in a million, that they had never before received any complaints. The family spent a couple of months debating whether to remove the meter. Finally, the symptoms were so bad, and they were so afraid for their children’s health, they removed the meter. (Click here to read about some of the other health problems experienced by people exposed to opt-out meters.) After just one day, their symptoms improved. The mother says, “My ears don't hurt and have pressure anymore, no pressure feeling on my temples and head. And I don't feel the weird sensation in my body. There still seems to be a small electrical noise in the house, but definitely not as loud as before. I still here a ringing noise in my ears sometimes, but hopefully time will resolve it.”
2. Elderly Couple Removes Opt-Out Meter
Murray and his wife became ill upon installation of a smart meter on their home. They opted out, thinking that that would solve the problem. It did not. They became more and more ill.
The meter was causing
- high blood pressure
- anxiety, jitteriness, impatience
- heart palpitations
- intermittent buzzing in the ears (tinnitus)
- low-grade headaches, and
- respiratory problems
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Terms to Know
Advanced meter: smart meter (term used by DTE to hide the fact it is a smart meter).
AMI meter and AMI program: another name for the smart meter and the smart meter program. AMI stands for advanced metering infrastructure.
Blood-brain barrier: EMFs can cause the blood-brain barrier to be breached, allowing toxins to enter the brain. Toxin entry is thought to be partially responsible for Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s.
Dirty electricity: spiky, pulsed electromagnetic field generated by smart meters that rides through building wiring and permeates the building’s rooms. Responsible for many of the health problems seen with smart and digital meters.
Electromagnetic fields (EMFs): consist of an electrical field and a magnetic field. Fields are created by the flow of electrical current through the wire, sunlight, etc.
Electromagnetic frequency: examples are 60 Hz electrical current of your home, RF of a cell phone. Often used interchangeably with electromagnetic field.
Electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS): sensitivity to electromagnetic fields. Symptoms are complex and involve all bodily systems
Hydrogen bonds: Electrostatic bonds that help hold the DNA double helix together. Breakage of hydrogen bonds may cause changes in DNA that can lead to cancer. RF and other EMFs may disrupt the Hydrogen bonds.
Meter upgrade: the installation of an advanced (smart) meter on your home by DTE.
Microwave radiation: the type of radiation emitted by smart meters. Known to cause biological harm.
Non-transmitting meter: another name for the DTE and Consumers opt-out meters.
Opt-out meter: this is a smart meter. The only thing that is different is the radio-transmitter is turned off. It still generates dirty electricity, it still retains the two antennas, and it is only incrementally less harmful to your health. It can still record detailed information about your electrical usage.
Radio-disabled meter: another name for the DTE opt-out meter.
Radio-off meter: another name for the DTE opt-out meter.
Radiofrequency (RF): high-frequency electromagnetic waves in the range of 10 MHz to 300 Ghz. All wireless devices, including smart meters, cell phones, and Wi-Fi emit RF.
Switched mode power supply: contained in all smart meters, it creates dirty electricity.
van der Waals bonds: an extremely weak electromagnetic force that helps hold the DNA double helix together. Breakage of the van der Waals bond may cause changes in DNA that can lead to cancer. RF and other EMFs can disrupt the van der Waals bonds.