Court rules that MPSC erred in approving DTE rate increase for smart meters.

13 Apr 2012

Photo credit: portland general via Flickr

Last week I blogged about the MPSC’s ongoing investigation into the health, privacy and cost implications of smart meters (700,000+ which have already been installed by various Michigan utilities).  DTE’s smart meter program took another hit earlier this week when the Michigan Court of Appeals (link to case here) ruled that the MPSC should have not permitted DTE to hike rates to pay for its program.  In his opinion, Judge Henry Saad stated that the nearly $37 million rate increase to fund the program was unreasonable because it was not supposed by substantive evidence.  Judge Saad wrote, “We will not rubber stamp a decision permitting such a substantial expenditure — a cost borne by the citizens of this state — that is not properly supported.”  In short, there was no evidence to show that the program (which allows the utility to remotely collect real-time data and shut-off electricity) provided any benefit to customers.

The court remanded the matter for the MPSC to conduct a full hearing on the cost benefits of the program.  Between its own internal investigation and yesterday’s court decision, the MPSC has a lot of work to do on this matter.


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