Below (in black) is the comment I submitted to the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) regarding the proposed new public utility rules. The proposed new rules can be viewed here. And comments submitted should be posted for the public to view at their e-Dockets site here.
Someone had discovered that the MPSC was allegedly redacting comments that had to do with health and medical treatment, and suggested the verbiage in the first two paragraphs of my comment.
October 10, 2016
Re: MPSC Case No. U-18120
Dear Sirs and Madams:
Please Note: I want the information below and any attachments published in full in the public comments section of the edocket for U-18120. Under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, I, as a private person, have every right to disclose and disseminate, in whatever form I choose, any information about myself, including information about my health and health reports from medical professionals. There is nothing in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”) that precludes me from doing so.
The Commission does not fall under HIPAA rules and may not use the language of HIPAA to circumscribe the commentary I wish to make of my own free will on the public record in this or any other proceeding in regard to my health or in providing documents from an entity covered by HIPAA. The Commission is not a health plan, health care clearinghouse, or health care provider, nor does it perform functions or services on behalf of a an entity covered under HIPAA. HIPAA applies only to "health plans, health care clearinghouses, and to any health care provider who transmits health information in electronic form in connection with transactions for which the Secretary of HHS has adopted standards under HIPAA." See HHS.gov at https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/privacy/laws-regulations/. The only other type of entity that might be governed by HIPAA "is a person or organization, other than a member of a covered entity's workforce, that performs certain functions or activities on behalf of, or provides certain services to, a covered entity that involve the use or disclosure of individually identifiable health information. Business associate functions or activities on behalf of a covered entity include claims processing, data analysis, utilization review, and billing.”
In reviewing the proposed new rules, I have found areas of concern I will describe, along with my questions:
R 460.102 Definitions; A to F. (b) talks about customer account information and data. The words "extraordinary effort" are used. This is vague. One person's extraordinary effort is effortless for another, such as a hacker.
With smart metering technology, cyber security is a real threat. Did you know that
's Board of Water & Light
got hacked into this past April? Or that
hackers have already taken down the power grid in the Lansing ? What is being done to address these real
threats to our *safety? (*See end note) Ukraine
Please see the following links about smart meters and hacking:
R 460.111 General deposit conditions for residential customers. (8) This is the first place in the proposed new rules where utility companies want to REDUCE the amount they pay to customers in interest by 2%. Why would you allow this? Are utility companies loosing money? Is this *reasonable?
R 460.111a General deposit conditions for nonresidential customers. (5) Another mention of reducing interest utility companies pay to customers on deposits, from 7% to 5%. While utility rates and tariffs continue to rise, utility companies charge customers more, but PAY customers less when they hold customer money. I do not consider this *reasonable. Do you?
460.116 Meter relocation.
Rule 16. (1) (b) This rule addresses if
a customer threatens harm to a utility worker.
What about utility meters that harm customers? Are you not a "Public Service Commission"? I thought you were supposed to help protect
public utility customers by promoting *safe service. If that it not your job (among other things)
to help protect public utility customers, then what IS your job?
R 460.126a Billing error. Rule 26a. (1) This rule proposes another reduction in the interest utility companies pay customers, from 7% to 5% on overcharges. Again, is this *reasonable? Or is this benefiting the utility companies at the EXPENSE of the customers?
This rule also states: "A utility is not required to adjust, refund, or credit an overcharge plus 5% (which should remain at 7%) APR interest for more than the 3 years immediately preceding discovery of the billing error..." This is unacceptable! New NON-ANALOG public utility meters have a history of overcharging. This proposed rule would relieve public utility companies of some of their responsibility for choosing to install faulty, inferior equipment and/or for installing equipment incorrectly.
To relieve utility companies of some of their financial responsibility to customers is *unreasonable. Again, it is protecting utility companies at the EXPENSE of the customers.
Utility companies must be held accountable for billing errors for no less than 7 (seven) years from the time the error is discovered and pay a minimum of 7% interest on the amount overcharged.
Please see the following links about smart meters and over-charging:
Did you know that "smart" and digital "opt-out" electric meters TAKE electricity to run? ANALOG meters do not. Who is paying for this extra electricity usage to run new electric meters? The customer is. Is this additional financial burden to customers *reasonable?
R 460.137 Shutoff or denial of service permitted. (1) Why is the word "hazardous" used here but NOT defined under R 460.102 Definitions? This word and this statement are both too vague for a document of this magnitude. This is definitely NOT a *reasonable rule.
R 460.137 (1) would allow utility companies to shut-off service to customers who refuse the installation of a new, NON-ANALOG, utility meter. Some customers already know they are sensitive to new metering technology and want to keep ANALOG meters.
If our natural gas provider had told us their new AMR ERT NON-ANALOG meters send signals over 450,000 times per month, we would have refused installation. That could happen to a customer in the middle of the winter. It could be just a matter of hours before water pipes begin to freeze and burst, creating possible catastrophic property loss for utility customers. Is it *reasonable to expect customers to accept new metering technology when they are already aware of a sensitivity to it? Is it *reasonable to expect customers to be OKAY with natural gas (or electric) shut-off in the middle of the winter with NO NOTICE?
By not defining "hazardous," you give utility companies the power to create their own rules regarding shutoffs as they go along. This is definitely NOT *reasonable, and makes the Michigan Public Service Commission of NO VALUE to utility customers.
"Hazardous" must be clearly defined, please. THAT is only *reasonable!
Furthermore, the following rules must be added:
(1) Utility companies must provide full disclosure of what exactly they are installing on customers homes. Utility companies must provide complete and accurate information about equipment before installing new equipment.
I was already avoiding cell phones because of a known sensitivity to radio frequency radiation, prior to new AMR ERT gas meters being installed.
The gas company told us their new meters only transmit once per month, for the meter read. What they didn't say was that they send signals over 450,000 times per month. Had they told us the whole truth about their new meters, we would have refused installation. But we didn't, and within three months, I started having symptoms of electromagnetic hypersensitivity. I didn't know it, at the time. I had no idea the new AMR ERT gas meters were going to eventually make me extremely unwell.
About a week after I requested information on their new AMR ERT gas meters, Dave Williams, the Regional Operations Manager at SEMCO Energy, emailed me with the data about what exactly the new AMR ERT gas meters do. I'm not sure he even knew the details about their new AMR ERT meters before I inquired.
Mr. Williams also told us they have no opt-out, so the only thing we could do if we wanted the new AMR ERT gas meters that made me extremely unwell removed, is disconnect natural gas service. Is THAT *reasonable?
(2) Utility companies must offer an ANALOG utility meter choice.
There's a growing number of people in Michigan discovering they are electro-sensitive, thanks to smart meters, as you may already know, given the number of complaints you have and are receiving. This is a growing health crisis. Please do your job to help protect us. We must be accounted for.
Harm done by wireless technology and electromagnetic fields has been known about since the 1980's. Perhaps even before that. You must do your job and protect the people in
who are electro-sensitive. Michigan
Also, new NON-ANALOG electric meters now have a growing history of explosions and/or starting fires. Utility customers who wish to AVOID the increased risk of fire from a public utility meter must be given an ANALOG utility meter choice.
(3) Utility customers must be given the choice to either:
a. read their ANALOG meter themselves at NO additional charge if they submit their reading electronically, or
b. read their ANALOG meter themselves at NO additional charge save postage if they submit their reading via the
Service, or United States
c. have the utility company come out and read their meter for a minimal charge.
(4) Utility companies must be prohibited from charging customers for utility bills that are printed and mailed via the
Service. United States
This is *reasonable given the fact that not all utility customers own a home computer. It's *unreasonable to expect customers to leave their homes in order to view their utility bills.
I've been told to be respectful to the Michigan Public Service Commission, however I find it difficult to be respectful to people who have been defending and protecting those who've taken away my Rights as a Human Being to *Safety, Security, and Privacy in my own home.
Please, do your job and earn the respect the Michigan Public Service Commission deserves. Otherwise, you are a useless organization to the People of Michigan.
Jeanine S. Deal
*R 460.101 Applicability; purpose. (2) These rules are intended to promote safe and adequate service to the public and to provide standards for uniform and reasonable practices by electric and natural gas utilities in dealing with residential and non residential customers. (My highlights added)