Licensing and Regulatory Affairs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 1, 2019
MPSC sends to Governor initial report, ordered after polar vortex, natural gas plant fire
LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Public Service Commission today submitted to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer an initial Statewide Energy Assessment, which found that Michigan’s energy supply and delivery systems are adequate to meet customer needs. The report also makes 36 recommendations for the MPSC, regulated utilities, policymakers, and others which would add resiliency to the state’s energy systems.
The report was requested by the Governor in the wake of a polar vortex that blanketed Michigan on Jan. 30 and 31 while at the same time a fire at Consumers Energy Co.’s Ray Compressor Station in Macomb County disrupted the availability and deliverability of natural gas. The MPSC was asked to evaluate whether the design of electric, natural gas, and propane delivery systems are adequate to account for operational problems, changing conditions and extreme weather events, and also provide recommendations to mitigate risk (Case No. U-20464).
“This winter, Michigan faced some extreme weather conditions, especially during the polar vortex. I’m grateful to the businesses and residents who stepped up to help one another and our state,” Gov. Whitmer said. “Moving forward, this report will help to inform our next steps in assuring all Michiganders have reliable access to energy when they need it at home, at school, and at work. With the transition to more renewable energy resources and the growing impact of climate change it is imperative that our utility infrastructure can meet the changing demands while keeping rates affordable and protecting the environment.”
“This detailed State Energy Assessment provided the opportunity for the Commission to examine whether Michigan’s residents and businesses are able to receive safe and reliable energy service during times of great challenges due to abnormal weather and untimely system failures,” said Sally Talberg, chairman of the Commission. “The Commission Staff examined both shortcomings and strengths of the electricity, natural gas, and propane sectors. Overall, the energy system is strong, but would benefit from increased resilience, strengthened infrastructure interconnections, and improved communication.”
To develop the assessment, five work groups – electric; natural gas; propane; cyber and physical security; and energy emergency management – worked with regulated and non-regulated utility providers. The MPSC hosted more than 40 internal and external meetings and conference calls to coordinate data collection and review. The more than 220-page report makes 36 recommendations within the scope of the Commission’s jurisdiction and 14 observations outside of the Commission’s jurisdiction. The Commission will continue its work with stakeholders to finalize this report.
Among the initial assessment’s findings:
The Commission will establish a time period where the public can comment on the initial report in the docket for Case No. U-20464. A final report is due to the Governor by Sept. 13, after which the Commission will direct utilities to take appropriate action to address any shortfalls identified in the assessment.
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