January 19, 2016
Contact: Judy Palnau, 517-284-8300
Agency: Michigan Public Service Commission
LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) today opened an investigation into Consumers Energy Company’s estimated billing practices, directed the utility to file a report by February 18, and directed the MPSC staff to supply its analysis and recommendations by May 18.
"The Michigan Public Service Commission continues to hear complaints from Consumers Energy Company customers about estimated bills," noted MPSC Chairman Sally Talberg. "Problems have persisted for several years despite repeated meetings between the MPSC staff and the utility to reduce the number of estimated bills. Therefore, the Commission today has commenced an investigation that requires the utility to provide detailed explanations about its estimated billing practices."
Specifically, today's order (Case No. U-18002) directs the utility to report on eight areas, including explanations of the utility's performance history regarding its meter reading factor, the impact of certain software on billing issues related to estimated meter reads, meter reading staffing levels, communications with customers regarding estimated reads, how many customers the utility under- or overestimated during the summer tiered rate period, how many variable rate alternative gas supplier customers for whom it estimated meter reads during the heating season, what the utility is doing with any customer service write offs related to estimated billing, and the utility's plans going forward to address the practice of estimated billing.
Customers with concerns about estimated billing or who are interested in commenting on this case may contact the Michigan Agency for Energy's compliance and investigation section toll-free at 800-292-9555.
Additional MPSC actions today include:
Case No. U-17319-R: The MPSC approved a settlement agreement authorizing DTE Electric Company to reconcile its 2014 power supply costs. Under the terms of the settlement, customers will see a one-time charge of 24 cents in February.
Case No. U-17548: The MPSC approved a settlement agreement authorizing Michigan Gas Utilities Corporation to true up amounts related to the 2013 and 2012 reconciliations of its uncollectibles expense tracking mechanism. Under the terms of the settlement, the company is authorized to recover a total of $176,967 by implementing a one-time surcharge of $1.04 on all active accounts (except special contracts) in February.
Case No. U-17878: The MPSC approved a settlement agreement authorizing Wolverine Pipe Line Company to construct, operate and maintain the 16-inch pipeline system for the transportation of petroleum products in Washtenaw and Wayne counties. The pipeline will directly link refineries in the Chicago area that produce refined products used by consumers and businesses in Michigan and surrounding regions.
Case No. U-17910: The MPSC approved a settlement agreement authorizing Alpena Power Company to implement a power supply cost recovery factor of up to 6.30 mills per kilowatt-hour for 2016.
Case No. U-17925: The MPSC approved an agreement between Consumers Energy Company and the Lansing Board of Water & Light regarding the provision of electric service to Michigan State University (MSU). Under the agreement, Consumers Energy will construct facilities and provide electric service to MSU, and both utilities will divide the net margin from the electric service to the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) project equally between themselves during a 20-year period following commencement of service to the FRIB project.
Case Nos. U-18002, U-17319-R, U-17548, U-17878, U-17910 and U-17925
For more information about the MPSC, please visit www.michigan.gov/mpsc.