Electric distribution system infrastructure is aging, which can lead to frequent and long-lasting power outages, and can cause unsafe conditions for the public. Utility spending on improving the electric grid is growing. As technology improves and costs decline, customers and developers are increasingly interested in connecting their projects to the utility system. Distribution system plans provide stakeholders and the MPSC information about planned utility investments and allow for customer preferences to be considered as investments are made.
The MPSC directed DTE Electric, Consumers Energy, and Indiana Michigan Power Company (through rate case Orders as linked below), to develop and submit five-year distribution investment and maintenance plans. The intent of this directive was to increase visibility into utility distribution system needs and facilitate a comprehensive review of long-term distribution planning by the Commission, MPSC Staff, and other interested parties, with more transparency than one-year outlooks in contested rate case proceedings.
Continued stakeholder activity took place in 2019 from June through November. Utility representatives, subject matter experts, Commission staff and other interested stakeholders participated in the stakeholder process. These stakeholder sessions featured discussions about distribution planning topics and examined issues raised in case U-20147 as well as value of resilience in relation to proposed investments.
MPSC target is for utilities to publish new plans every two years with next plans issued beginning 2021.
Staff will submit a report to the U-20147 docket that will summarize the 2019 stakeholder process and provide recommendations to the Commission going forward. MPSC to provide guidance on second iteration of long-term distribution plans with new areas of emphasis:
December 16, 2019: Additional comments due from stakeholders for inclusion in staff report
February 19, 2020: Draft staff report deadline
March 5, 2020: Deadline for stakeholder comments on draft staff report due
April 1, 2020: Final staff report deadline
On April 12, 2018, in Case No. U-20147, the MPSC issued an order requiring DTE Electric and Consumers Energy to file their final distribution plans in that docket, asked for Staff and stakeholder comments on the final plan to be filed in the same docket, and required Staff to set up a technical conference to review comments. This technical conference took place on August 7, 2018. In a November 2018 order, the Commission addressed the Staff's September 1, 2018, recommendations and provided other guidance on the next round of distribution plans which are scheduled for the second quarter 2020. Staff will continue to engage stakeholders on these topics.
Additionally, the MPSC ordered Indiana Michigan Power to submit a draft five-year distribution plan by October 31, 2018 and a final plan by May 1, 2019. Comments on this plan were submitted in the U-20147 docket.
All comments throughout the process along with final distribution plans and Staff reports are available for review in the docket of Case No. U-20147.