MPSC initiatives to tackle issues of customer engagement, equity as state's energy transition moves ahead amid pandemic

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   February 18, 2021

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The Michigan Public Service Commission today launched new efforts focused on educating and engaging utility customers amid sweeping changes in the energy industry and ongoing challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Michigan is in the midst of a significant transition from large, central power plants to clean, distributed sources of energy, and active customer involvement will be critical to taking full advantage of the benefits of that shift,” said MPSC Commissioner Tremaine Phillips. “Today’s actions take the next steps in exploring how to best engage and educate customers, and ensure we do so equitably, so that all Michiganders benefit from the energy transition, while also considering the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on access and affordability for so many residents and businesses.”

In Case No. U-20959, the Commission established a Customer Education and Participation workgroup as part of Phase III of MI Power Grid, the MPSC’s multiyear initiative supported by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to maximize the benefits of the energy transition for residents and businesses. The workgroup will wrap in the customer data access section of the existing Data Access and Privacy workgroup. The goal of the workgroup is to examine the evolving role of utility customers as active and effective participants in Michigan’s energy system amid the transition and best practices for customer education and outreach.

That includes exploring the adoption of energy waste reduction and demand response programs, time-of-use rates and distributed energy resources that will be essential to ensuring the energy transition maximizes the benefits for all ratepayers while also ensuring the reliability of service. The workgroup will also address equitable access to energy programs and services, customer data access and privacy issues and ways to improve outreach. The order directs MPSC staff to file a report by Feb. 25, 2022, summarizing the workgroup’s efforts and providing recommendations for the Commission to consider.

In Case No. U-20757, the MPSC directed staff to convene an Energy Affordability and Accessibility Collaborative in coordination with the MPSC’s Energy Waste Reduction and Low-Income Workgroup to address recommendations in the Commission’s ongoing work on its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, affordable energy bills, and issues related to data collection and communication and engagement. The order directed Staff to file an interim report on progress and recommendations by Dec. 17, 2021.

To look up cases from today’s meeting, access the MPSC’s E-Dockets filing system.       

Watch recordings of MPSC meetings on its YouTube channel.

For information about the MPSC, visit www.Michigan.gov/MPSC, sign up for its monthly newsletter or other listservs, or follow the Commission on Twitter.

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.      

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