A recently completed Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) report recommends that DTE Energy allow customers to opt out of its "smart meter" program, according to today's Detroit News.
The report is part of an after a number of local governments passed resolutions asking the agency to look into the meters, which measure and record electricity usage with digital technology and transmit data to DTE via radio frequency waves.
DTE plans to install the meters for all of its 4 million customers over the next several years, according to the company's website. Company spokesperson Scott Simons told The Detroit News that DTE will, within a month, submit a proposal to the MPSC for an opt out fee, to cover the additional cost of using the old meters.
In March, in response to the investigation, noting that the "overwhelming majority" of customers fully support the new meters. However, .
Opponents say the meters create an electromagnetic field (EMF), and EMF exposure is being investigated as a carcinogen by the World Health Organization (WHO). In addition, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health has established safety guidelines for people who work around EMFs, because of the "scientific uncertainty" around their effects on cancer rates.
According to a WHO fact sheet, an EMF consists of energy waves with frequencies below 300 hertz (cycles per second).
Another concern is radio frequency (RF) radiation, which is how the meters transmit information. According to Stop Smart Meters, an organization that grew out of a California neighborhood crusade, a WHO study cites possible links between RF radiation from cellphones with glioma, a broad category of brain and spinal cord tumors.
DTE maintains the meters are safe, and today's Detroit News article quoted a portion of the MPSC report that called the health risk from the meters "insignificant".
Simons that the level of exposure is substantially lower than that emitted by common household appliances, such as microwave ovens and even baby monitors.
"Because they emit RF (radio frequency) waves at a very low level, it would take the typical homeowner more than 1,000 years to get as much exposure to RF waves from an advanced meter as an average cellphone user gets in a month," he said.
Clarification: The source for the definition of an electro-magnetic field has been added to this article.