MPSC kicks off annual assessment of funding factor for Low-Income Energy Assistance Fund

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   May 19, 2020

Media Contact: Matt Helms 517-284-8300
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The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) today moved forward on its annual approval of the funding factor for the state’s Low-Income Energy Assistance Fund (LIEAF) (Case No. U-17377).

Each year the MPSC sets the funding factor for LIEAF, a monthly per-meter fee assessed on retail electric billing meters in all rate classes that cannot exceed $1. The total amount collected is capped at $50 million per year. Last year’s surcharge was 92 cents. 

The money raised through LIEAF is distributed through the Michigan Energy Assistance Program (MEAP). In 2019, MEAP funding provided energy assistance payments and self-sufficiency services to 61,199 low-income households. The MPSC administers MEAP in partnership with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services by providing grants to non-profit organizations that provide direct assistance to low-income customers.

The MPSC must set the LIEAF funding factor each year no later than July 31 for the following fiscal year, based on participation by investor-owned, municipally owned and rural electric cooperative utilities.

Electric utilities may elect not to collect the funding factor by annually filing a notice with the MPSC by July 1; these utilities shall not shut off service to any residential customer from Nov. 1 to April 15 for nonpayment of a delinquent account. Participating utilities must, by July 1, provide to MPSC the number of retail billing meters served by the utility in Michigan that are subject to the monthly per-meter fee, which the Commission uses to establish the funding factor. If a residential customer has multiple meters, the customer is assessed only once.

Today’s order requires electric utilities to file by noon on July 1, 2020, information showing the number of retail billing meters the utility serves that are subject to the LIEAF funding factor, or file notice that the utility intends to opt out of collecting it.

Energy bill payment assistance funds are still available for customers in need. Residential utility and propane customers who are in financial distress are encouraged to be proactive by first contacting their utility for help, or seek assistance by calling 211, applying for State Emergency Relief (SER), and applying for a Home Heating Credit. Visit www.michigan.gov/mpsc for additional consumer tips and utility contact information.

MPSC APPROVES SETTLEMENT TO DELAY PEAK-USE CHARGES FOR CONSUMERS ENERGY CUSTOMERS AMID CORONAVIRUS STAY-HOME ORDER

The MPSC today approved an amended settlement agreement between Consumers Energy Co. and its electric customers that delays the implementation of summertime peak use time charges to accommodate the extraordinary circumstances of so many residential customers being sequestered at home because of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-home order to reduce the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Under the agreement (Case No. U-20134), Consumers will implement a revenue-neutral, uniform on-peak/off-peak power supply charge for residential customers instead of transitioning to summertime peak rates that had been set to be in effect June 1 to Sept. 30, 2020. The on-peak/off-peak rates will instead be instituted during summertime 2021. The agreement amends a settlement of a rate case Consumers filed in May 2018 that the Commission had already approved.

MPSC APPROVES $500K REFUND FOR CONSUMERS ENERGY TO USE ON GAS PIPELINE LEAK INVESTIGATION AND REPAIR WORK

The MPSC today approved an accounting procedure in which Consumers Energy Co. will donate $500,000 in higher revenues than the company had foreseen for 2019 (Case No. U-20668), money that will in turn be spent incrementally on gas leak investigation and repair work above amounts currently included in rates for the company’s Leak Repair and Survey Program. Consumers had sought the MPSC’s approval for this one-time voluntary refund in 2019, and the MPSC in December approved accounting authority for the refund with details to be worked out later.

PUBLIC HEARING SET ON RULES GOVERNING OBLIGATIONS OF LOCAL PHONE SERVICE PROVIDERS WHO CEASE SERVICE

The MPSC today set a hearing to seek public input on its proposed re-promulgation of the rules governing the obligations of providers of basic local exchange phone service that cease to provide the service (Case No. U-20732). The Michigan Office of Administrative Hearings and Rules in November approved the MPSC’s request to re-promulgate the rules set to automatically expire in March 2021. The MPSC proposes minor changes to the rules, which are attached to the Commission’s order in the case. The public hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. July 14, 2020, at 7109 W. Saginaw Highway, Lansing. While the hearing is currently scheduled to be held in-person, interested persons should monitor this docket prior to the public hearing for any changes to the format of the public hearing. Written comments may be submitted and should reference Case No. U-20732. They must be received no later than 5 p.m. on July 28, 2020. Comments may be mailed to Executive Secretary, Michigan Public Service Commission, 7109 W. Saginaw Hwy., Lansing, MI 48917. Electronic comments may be e-mailed to mpscedockets@michigan.gov. If you need assistance prior to filing, contact MPSC staff at 517-284-8090 or e-mail mpscedockets@michigan.gov.

COLLABORATIVE ON RATE APPLICATION FILING FORMS PUT ON HOLD

The Commission today put into indefinite abeyance the reconvening of collaborative effort with MPSC Staff and stakeholders to consider modifications to standard rate application filing forms after the state’s 2016 energy laws reduced the review period for utility rate cases to 10 months (Case No. U-18238). In January 2017, the Commission opened a review of standard rate application filing forms, and in July 2017 adopted forms under the framework established in Act 341. The Commission at that time also ordered a new collaborative to consider alternative filing requirements for small utilities and other matters to commence in September 2020. Given the MPSC’s aggressive moves to have Staff work remotely and to host public meetings electronically as part of state government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Commission’s order today suspends the reconvening of the new collaborative until further notice or order from the Commission.

MPSC SEEKS COMMENT ON SHARED SAVINGS MECHANISM FOR ELECTRIC UTILITIES

The MPSC today called for interested parties to submit written or electronic comments on the Commission’s effort to establish a shared savings mechanism (SSM) for electric utilities addressing the interplay and overlap between sections of Public Acts 341 and 342 of 2016 and a lack of clarity on whether previous Commission actions have already met the statutory obligations (Case No. U-20747). Interested persons may submit written or electronic comments no later than 5 p.m. on June 16, 2020; reply comments must be received no later than 5 p.m. on June 30, 2020. Mail written comments to: Executive Secretary, Michigan Public Service Commission, 7109 W. Saginaw Hwy., Lansing, MI 48917. Electronic comments (preferred) may be e-mailed to mpscedockets@michigan.gov. All comments should reference Case No. U-20747. If you need assistance prior to filing, contact MPSC Staff at 517-284-8090 or e-mail mpscedockets@michigan.gov.

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

To watch recordings of the MPSC’s meetings, click here. 

For information about the MPSC, visit www.Michigan.gov/MPSC, sign up for one of its 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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