December 2020

 

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This is the MPSC Spotlight - a monthly newsletter from the Michigan Public Service Commission. This month we recap recently issued telecommunications reports, highlight the MPSC's ongoing response to COVID-19, and bid farewell to one of our Commissioners. The holiday season also provides an ideal time to consider some of the ways we at the MPSC seek to positively impact our communities.

Commissioner and Former MPSC Chairman Sally Talberg Begins New Journey

Commissioner Sally TalbergAfter serving the State of Michigan for over 15 years - including seven and a half years as a Commissioner at the MPSC, with four and a half of those as its Chairman - Commissioner Sally Talberg leaves at the end of this year to join the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) board of directors. Her appointment to a three-year term on the ERCOT board as an unaffiliated director begins in January 2021.

Commissioner Talberg's leadership, knowledge, vision, and collegiality have been invaluable as she helped guide the Commission through times of unprecedented change in the energy and telecommunications worlds. She will be dearly missed, and we wish her all the best as she lends her extraordinary talent to the Lone Star state.


MPSC COVID-19 Response

As home heating season begins in Michigan at the same time that COVID-19 cases continue to spike, it's important to assess where we are in the effort to protect Michiganders struggling to afford their utility bills and other necessities amid the painful impacts of the pandemic and the resulting economic fallout.

Early in the pandemic, the MPSC worked with utilities and other State of Michigan agencies to ensure that more than 3,500 disconnected households had their service reconnected, institute special protections for vulnerable customers, and directly link 41,000 low-income customers to energy assistance. In addition, the MPSC helped ensure that the $162 million in federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds were distributed broadly, in addition to $35.1 million more Congress made available to the state through the CARES Act federal pandemic stimulus funds.

Michigan's approach resulted in both the number of customers and the total bill amounts past due actually declining between mid-May and the end of October, and these numbers remain below where they were at this point last year. At the same time, many of the organizations providing assistance have also upped their game, finding new and innovative ways of reaching customers and increasing awareness of the assistance programs available.

The reality, however, is that the next several months could be the most difficult of the pandemic. But, as a result of the work done to date, we're better prepared to confront these challenges. Help continues to be available for those in need - customers seeking assistance should call 2-1-1 or visit www.mi211.org. As the temperatures drop and the financial challenges associated with COVID-19 continue, the MPSC and our partners remain committed to doing all we can to keep Michiganders warm through the winter months ahead.

Information for residential customers who need assistance with their electricity or heating bills because of impacts of COVID-19

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MPSC Reports

Throughout each year the MPSC produces various reports on energy and telecommunications topics. Many of these reports are submitted to the Michigan Legislature as required by statute. Two reports prepared by our telecommunications staff were recently submitted.

The Report on the Michigan Intrastate Switched Toll Access Restructuring Mechanism (ARM), in compliance with PA 179 of 1991 as amended (PA 182 of 2009), is the 10th annual report on the administration of the ARM as part of the reform of telecommunications' carriers payments to one another.

The Status of Cost Information Related to IP-Based 9-1-1 Services in Michigan is a one-time report addressing the costs of transitioning to Internet Protocol-based 9-1-1 systems under PA 51 of 2018. The Upper Peninsula was one of the first regions in the country to move to this advanced technology.

MPSC Gives Back

2020 has been full of changes and challenges. The pandemic has been ever-present in our minds for most of the year. Much of the work of countering the spread of the coronavirus has been done by people stepping beyond their regular roles, driven by a sense of community and a desire to help where they can. The MPSC is proud to acknowledge our own Ryan Cook, an analyst in our Compliance & Investigation section, for volunteering as a contact tracer. Ryan will soon begin serving two full days per week in this capacity. Thank you, Ryan! We are grateful to everyone willing to give their time and effort to this universal cause.

<a href='https://www.freepik.com/psd/christmas'>Christmas psd created by riandra - www.freepik.com</a>Most think of the end-of-the-year holiday season as a time for giving. Although we are unable to gather and celebrate together as we have in the past, not all traditions have to change. For the second consecutive year, the MPSC is participating in the Volunteers of America's Adopt-A-Family program. This program offers the opportunity for sponsors - individuals or collectives - to help families in need by providing holiday gifts and a special meal. We are happy to come together in a charitable spirit and help spread some joy in our communities, especially during this year that has been exceptionally difficult for many.

happy holidaysThe MPSC wishes happy holidays to all. We hope that everyone has an opportunity to celebrate, connect with loved ones in some fashion, and reflect on some of the goodness in the world. We look forward to seeing you all in the new year!

Have a utility complaint, or need help with your utility service? We're here to help. Submit your complaint or inquiry online or call 800-292-9555.


Tune in to our next regularly scheduled virtual Commission Meeting on December 17, 2020 at 1:30 PM.


The mission of the Michigan Public Service Commission is to protect the public by ensuring safe, reliable, and accessible energy and telecommunications services at reasonable rates for Michigan's residents.


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