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what is electricity choice?

Under Michigan's Electric Customer Choice, the generation and supply of power is now opening to competitive suppliers. The electric transmission and distribution businesses will remain under a regulated monopoly utility structure.

The Michigan state legislature passed Public Acts 141 and 142 of 2000, the Customer Choice and Electricity Reliability Act, signed into law on June 3, 2000. They are indexed as Michigan Compiled Laws (MCL), Chapter 460, Section 10a through 10bb (MCL 460.10; See the index for Act 3 of 1939).

The law provides "that all retail customers in this state of electric power have a choice of electric suppliers." It directs the Michigan Public Service Commission to "issue orders establishing the rates, terms, and conditions of service that allow all retail customers of an electric utility or provider to choose an alternative electric supplier."

Since the law took effect in June 2000, the MPSC has issued many orders to implement its various provisions. Open access, or Choice, became available to all customers of Michigan investor owned utilities, beginning January 1, 2002. Customers of Michigan's member-owned cooperative electric distribution companies that have a maximum demand of 200 kilowatts or more also became eligible to participate. Other co-op customers will become eligible after January 1, 2006 (see September 11, 2003 order).

The rules are different for municipal electric utilities that are not regulated by the MPSC (see MCL 460.10y). Generally speaking, it is up to each municipal utility's local governing board to make decisions about electric choice for their customers.

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