Michigan Public Service Commission makes key decisions, continuing progress toward implementing state's new energy laws

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) today issued additional orders related to the launch of the state’s new, wide-ranging energy laws, which went into effect in April.

At their regular meeting, Commissioners scheduled a series of technical conferences to study the capacity demonstration process that is part of the state reliability mechanism, approved Certificates of Necessity Filing Requirements, established a workgroup on demand response, and requested comments on distributed generation programs.

The energy laws were approved in December to ensure customer rates are affordable, electricity supplies are reliable, and the environment is protected. Many barriers to reducing energy waste and increasing renewable energy have been removed and businesses will be able to continue receiving energy from alternative electric providers.

The MPSC is required under the new laws to implement a state reliability mechanism to guarantee there is adequate electric generation capacity in Michigan to meet customers’ future needs. In its order in Case No. U-18197, the MPSC posed several questions to help refine the scope of the issues related to the process that energy providers will use to demonstrate the adequacy of their electric supplies, including which methods will be used to determine reliability, scheduling of capacity demonstrations, and what process should be used for guidance from the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) in determining capacity obligations.

The deadline to comment on these issues (see below) is 5 p.m. May 26 followed by a 5 p.m. June 5 deadline for replies to the comments. The MPSC expects to issue another order June 15 providing guidance related to the threshold issues.

The MPSC has scheduled technical conferences for June 8, 29 and 30 and July 10 so stakeholders can try to reach consensus on how to structure the capacity demonstration process. The June 8 conference will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with times for the other days to be determined. After the conferences, MPSC staff will file by Aug. 1 their recommendations, with the ability for interested parties to comment on the report, and reply to the comments. The MPSC intends to issue an order Sept. 28 establishing the capacity demonstration process.

In another order (Case No. U-18369), the MPSC called for convening a workgroup by June 20 to propose a framework for the evaluation and cost recovery of demand response investments by regulated electric utilities. Demand response is a program that encourages customers to shift their electric use to off-peak periods from times when prices are high or there is high stress on the grid. Comments are due by 5 p.m. May 31 (see below).

The MPSC, in Case No. U-18383, set a June 1 deadline for comments on establishing a distributed generation program as well as guidelines for utility customers who are in a net metering program or plan to begin using net metering. Distributed generation refers to smaller power generation abilities used at a home or business, such as a wind turbine or solar panels. Net metering allows customers using distributed generation to sell excess power back to a utility.

Comments regarding the state reliability mechanism, demand response workgroup and distributed generation guidelines should include the case number and be mailed to Executive Secretary, Michigan Public Service Commission, P.O. Box 30221, Lansing, MI 48909 or emailed to mpscedockets@michigan.gov.

The Commission also approved updates (Case No. U-15896) to the Certificate of Necessity Filing Requirements that electric utilities must submit under the new energy laws. The significant changes are a lowering of the project cost threshold from $500 million to $100 million and the addition of a filing announcement that utilities must submit 30 days before the proposed filing in the case.

Finally, the MPSC agreed to rescind obsolete rules (Case No. U-18325) so utilities can eventually establish on-bill financing programs allowed under the new energy statutes. On-bill financing allows a homeowner to make energy waste reduction improvements and pay off the project costs through their utility bill.

For information about Michigan’s new energy laws, go to the MPSC’s energy law page.

The MPSC also approved:

  • A request by Michigan Gas Utilities Corp. (Case No. U-18154) to include in its rates a gas cost recovery factor of $4.1507 per thousand cubic feet. The settlement agreement rate for full-service customers applies to the 12 months ending March 31, 2018.

  • A gas cost recovery plan request by Presque Isle Electric and Gas Co-op (Case No. U-18156) for the 12-month period ending March 31, 2018. A settlement agreement set the GCR base factor at $0.4795 per hundred cubic feet for full-service customers.

For more information about the MPSC, please visit www.michigan.gov/mpsc or sign up for one of its listservs to keep up to date on MPSC matters.