MPSC opens docket for Consumers, DTE, I&M to file electric distribution plans for public review

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   April 12, 2018

Contact:         Nick Assendelft 517-284-8300
Customer Assistance: 800-292-9555

MPSC opens docket for Consumers, DTE, I&M to file

electric distribution plans for public review

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) today set up an open process to allow for public input on five-year distribution plans submitted by electric utilities.

Consumers Energy Co., DTE Electric Co., and Indiana Michigan Power Co. will file their distribution and investment maintenance plans in Case No. U-20147, where they will be available for review and comment by stakeholders and the Commission.

“The Commission's focus on long-range and transparent planning for our electric distribution systems benefit customers in two ways,” said Sally Talberg, chairman of the MPSC. “Replacing aging infrastructure will improve safety and reliability. It will also help in integrating new technologies such as demand response, distributed generation, and increased use of electric vehicles.” 

The plans, which look ahead to 2022 and beyond, will be a crucial piece in being able to thoroughly evaluate investments in aging electrical distribution systems to ensure they are safe, reliable, and resilient. A long-term outlook allows for greater analysis of spending plans, as well as provides the information needed to make informed decisions in future rate cases.  

Electric reliability is a priority of Gov. Rick Snyder, who set targets for Michigan being in the top quartile for the number of outages as measured by the system average interruption frequency index (SAIFI), and the top half for how long power is out, as measured by the system average interruption duration index (SAIDI).

DTE filed its distribution plan Jan. 31 in Case No. 18014 and Consumers did the same on March 1 in Case No. 17990. Those plans will now be consolidated in Case No. U-20147, along with I&M’s distribution plan, as ordered in today’s MPSC rate ruling (Case No. U-18370).

The MPSC also ordered staff to review the plans, issue its own report, and choose a date for a workshop at the Commission’s offices in Lansing to address stakeholder comments.

The public can track plan developments at a new website and sign up for a listserv for updates.

Other Commission rulings today

Utilities must file extreme weather procedures: Regulated natural gas and electric utilities were ordered to file by June 11 an extreme weather condition policy (Case No. U-20140) outlining residential disconnection procedures during extreme cold or warm weather conditions, and any preferential treatment given to certain customer classes. The requirement was added to the Commission’s recently updated utility Billing Rules (Case No. U-17844) following the death of a 69-year-old resident in the winter of 2015. The Commission will review each utility’s filing and decide whether to approve it. The public can also review the plans.

Low-income energy waste reduction programs expanded: DTE Electric (Case No. U-18262) and DTE Gas (Case No. U-18268) will increase the amount spent on energy waste reduction programs targeted to low-income customers. Under a settlement agreement approved by the MPSC, the companies will boost by $5 million money earmarked for its Energy Efficiency Assistance Program, which targets customers who behind on their utility bills. At least $1 million must be spent in 2018 with the remainder in 2019. The company had proposed to spend more than $11.8 million each year. DTE also will increase funding for multi-family low-income programs by $250,000 for a total of $2,195,000 in 2018 and $3 million for a total of $4,955,000. The average electric and gas customers will see bills increase 46 cents a month starting in May.

Northern States Power Co. rates increased: Northern States Power Co. was approved for a $300,000 rate increase for 2018 (Case No. U-18462) under a settlement agreement between the utility, MPSC Staff, ABATE, and the Michigan Attorney General’s Office. The utility that serves 8,965 customers in the western Upper Peninsula had requested a rate increase of $1,087,175. The lower amount reflects $513,313 in federal Tax Cut and Jobs Act corporate rate reduction calculations. The PSC approved a 9.8 percent return on equity and an overall rate of return of 5.95 percent. NSP agreed not to seek another rate increase before Jan. 2, 2021, and to spend $7 million on capital expenditures. Customers using an average of 500 kilowatt hours (kWh) a month will see an increase of $1.15 on their monthly bills starting in May.

DTE wind contract can go forward: DTE Electric will be allowed to enter a contract with Polaris Wind Energy LLC to build the Polaris Wind Park in Gratiot County (Case No. U-18111). Under the contract, Polaris will design, engineer, build, install, start-up, and test the Polaris Wind Park and then DTE will buy the facility, which is expected to produce 168 megawatts of power. It’s expected to be operational before March 1, 2020. DTE estimates the cost from the wind park will be $1,577 per kilowatt hour.

New West Michigan 2-1-1 coordinating agency: Heart of West Michigan United Way has been designated as the 2-1-1 provider for seven counties in place of Community Access Line of the Lakeshore Inc. (Case No. U-18493). Already the 2-1-1 provider for Kent County, Heart of West Michigan United Way will now operate 28 rate centers in Lake, Mason, Mecosta, Newaygo, Oceana, and Osceola counties. The 2-1-1 number connects residents with community resources, including help paying utility bills.

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.

DISCLAIMER: This document was prepared to aid the public’s understanding of certain matters before the Commission and is not intended to modify, supplement, or be a substitute for the Commission’s orders. The Commission’s orders are the official action of the Commission.