Low-income energy assistance surcharge set at 93 cents per month

July 12, 2017

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) today set a surcharge of 93 cents per meter per month to support the Low-Income Energy Assistance Fund for the 2017-18 fiscal year. That’s down 3 cents from the current rate.

LIEAF provides energy assistance and self-sufficiency services to low-income households in Michigan in conjunction with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The funding factor (Case No. U-17377) is based on the total number of customer meters reported by utilities that take part in the program, which was signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder in 2013. There is a $50 million cap for the fund. The LIEAF surcharge partially funds the Michigan Energy Assistance Program, which as helped 83,327 households from October 2016 through April 2017. In fiscal year 2016, 101,103 households received MEAP funding.

Utilities that have agreed to participate are Consumers Energy Co., DTE Electric Co., Alpena Power Co., Alger-Delta Co-operative Electric Assn., Great Lakes Energy Cooperative, HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative, Indiana Michigan Power Co., Midwest Energy Cooperative, Northern States Power Co., Presque Isle Electric and Gas Co-op, Thumb Electric Cooperative, and Upper Peninsula Power Co., Village of Baraga, Bay City Electric Light & Power, City of Gladstone, City of Hart Hydro, Hillsdale Board of Public Utilities, Lowell Light and Power, City of Marshall Electric Department, Negaunee Department of Public Works, Newberry Water and Light Board, Niles Utilities Dept., City of Norway, City of Petoskey, City of St. Louis and the Union City Electric Department.

Utilities that do not collect the surcharge cannot shut off service to any residential customer from Nov. 1, 2017, to April 15, 2018.

DTE Electric power supply cost recovery

The Commission also ruled Wednesday (Case No. U-17680-R) that DTE Electric’s power supply cost recovery reconciliation for 2015 should total an over recovery of $29,527,496. That amount will be the starting balance in the utility’s 2016 PSCR case. Power supply cost recovery covers how much a utility pays to generate or buy power to serve its customers. Reconciling costs means customers pay actual fuel costs that have been determined to be prudently incurred by the utility.

In a case that dates to February 2008, DTE sought to include in its PSCR request a refund it paid to Severstal Steel of Dearborn. The utility had paid the company $13,450,310 after it was discovered that DTE-installed meters were calibrated improperly, resulting in overbilling from February 2008 to April 2014. The Commission disallowed the refund payment, resulting in the lower PSCR.

Other MPSC decisions

Palisades filings delayed: The Commission approved a legal stipulation delaying for 30 days the deadline for all parties to file briefs on whether to approve a Consumers Energy financial securitization plan as part of its proposal for an early end to a power purchase agreement with Entergy Nuclear Palisades LLC, which runs the Palisades Nuclear Generating Station in Covert Township. The additional time (Case No. U-18250) allows all parties in the case to continue discussions on whether a potential settlement can be reached to be considered by the Commission. The Commission determination on Consumers’ application for a financing order is now scheduled to be made no later than Sept. 28, 2017.

Consumers negotiations extended: Power purchase agreements (PPAs) will be extended between Consumers and Independent Power Producers Coalition of Michigan (IPPC) members Hillman Power Co. LLC and White’s Bridge Hydro Co. IPPC charges (Case No. U-17981) that Consumers is trying to void its obligation under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA) to enter into replacement PPAs with qualified facilities that have contracts with Consumers. The Hillman and White’s Bridge contracts were due to expire May 31, 2017, but have been extended to July 31, 2017, as negotiations between the three companies continued.

DTE Gas rate refund: Some customers will see adjustments on their bills due to a self-implementation refund by the utility (Case No. U-18327). DTE Gas is allowed to charge customers new rates while it awaits a decision by the Commission. Any difference is then refunded to ratepayers. Residential customers will receive a refund of 12 cents on their September bill, multi-family residential customers $2.44, general service and school customers between $15.11 and $129.58, and transportation customers between $735.78 and $42,178.77.

Meter tariffs and opt-out fees: Customers who opt out of Consumers’ advanced metering infrastructure program will continue to pay a monthly fee of $9.72 (Case No. U-17087). In a decision appealed to the Michigan Court of Appeals, the Commission was ordered to rule on whether the opt-out fee is cost-based or duplicates rates paid by customers. The Commission ruled the fees are cost-based and noted opt-out customers receive a monthly credit for costs associated with meter reading and AMI capital investment, which are built into base rates.

Budget PrePay leaves Lifeline program: The phone provider will relinquish its license by Sept. 1 to provide Lifeline service in Michigan. Budget Phone (Case No. U-16803) must send customers a text message and letter informing them about the change and provide a link to other eligible wireless providers. The Lifeline program provides discounted wireless service to qualifying low-income users.

Phone service rules: A public hearing has been scheduled for public comments about new rules governing steps phone providers must take if they decide to cease providing service in Michigan. The hearing will be 9 a.m. Aug. 29, 2017, at the Commission offices, 7109 W. Saginaw Highway, Lansing. A copy of the rules is filed in the docket for Case No. U-18360.

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.

# # #