MPSC issues 2017 annual report

The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) today issued its annual report for 2017, highlighting its work to implement the state’s new energy laws, help customers in disputes with utilities, promote energy waste reduction, work to expand broadband, and develop a regulatory framework for electric vehicle charging infrastructure in the state.

The annual report is due to Governor Snyder and the Michigan Legislature by the first Monday of March, in accordance with Act 3 of 1939.

The Commission made significant strides in enacting Public Acts 341 and 342, the state’s new energy laws, which went into effect April 20. Among the areas where decisions were issued or cases are in progress were rate case processing, integrated resource planning, electric choice, code of conduct, renewable energy, energy waste reduction, distributed generation, and on-bill financing. In 2017, the MPSC decided more than 60 cases related to the new energy laws.

The Commission also hosted, in collaboration with the Michigan Agency for Energy (MAE), a conference to examine issues related to plug-in electric vehicle charging facilities and compressed natural gas as a motor vehicle fuel. Actions following the conference dealt with rate design, electrical grid impacts, and regulatory guidance on the role of the regulated utility in the electrification of the transportation sector. A second technical conference was held in February and the Commission is expected to issue a ruling in late spring of this year.

Commission members are Chairman Sally Talberg, Commissioner Norman Saari and Commissioner Rachael Eubanks. The MPSC has 130 full-time employees, seven divisions -- Regulatory Affairs, Electric Reliability, Financial Analysis and Audit, Operations and Wholesale Markets, Regulated Energy, Telecommunications, and Strategic Operations – and a staff of administrative law judges who are part of the Michigan Administrative Hearing System.

The report noted the Commission:

  • Issued 659 orders: 497 electric, 110 telecommunications, and 52 natural gas. Also issued 31 Minute Actions. The Executive Secretary received and processed 9,855 official documents. The number of cases opened was 281 with 138 closed.

  • Assisted 11,578 customers who contacted the Customer Assistance Division at MAE. Of those, 6,612 were energy-related, 1,173 telecommunications, and 3,793 other issues.

  • Issued orders in five electric and natural gas rate cases, granting in aggregate about 50 percent of the utilities’ total requested annual increase. Six rate cases are pending.

  • Adopted in November major updates to the Consumer Standards and Billing Practices for Electric and Natural Gas Service. The “billing rules” now offer new protections for critical care customers and strengthens data privacy for utility customers.

  • Launched a formal investigation of DTE Energy billing practices following customer complaints of incorrect bills, late bills and shut offs without proper notification.

  • Approved 13 energy waste reduction reconciliation filings. Programs implemented since 2009 are anticipated to return to Michiganders $6 billion in lifetime savings.

  • Approved two new natural-gas fired electric generation plants in the U.P., which when built will increase reliability of service for residents and businesses.

  • In collaboration with MAE, won the removal of extra charges imposed by the federal government related to electric reliability for ratepayers in the U.P.

  • Participated in the Governor’s 21st Century Infrastructure Commission and addressed data needs and mapping capabilities for an ongoing asset management pilot.

  • Reengineered internal processes to streamline workflows. Among the changes was launching an updated electronic dockets system, the first overhaul in 20 years.

  • Issued six orders related to the continued implementation of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 for rate-regulated electric providers. 

  • Worked with MAE to evaluate Michigan’s resource adequacy if key power plants were offline and possible increased interconnection between the state’s peninsulas.

  • Granted licenses, or approved amendments to existing licenses, for five telephone companies.There were also five license surrenders. A total of 428 companies were registered in 2017 as intrastate telecommunications service providers in the state.

  • Worked to align Michigan’s Lifeline eligibility criteria with the FCC’s rules and update its eligibility database. The state has until June 30 to complete the work.

  • In collaboration with Connect Michigan, published the 14th telecommunications infrastructure map, which includes information for 543 voice and broadband providers.