January 2021

 

MPSC Spotlight png

This is the MPSC Spotlight - a monthly newsletter from the Michigan Public Service Commission.

After bidding a fond farewell to Commissioner Sally Talberg, we begin the new year delighted to welcome incoming Commissioner Katherine Peretick. This month we also highlight the MPSC's ongoing diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. Additionally, Staff's recent report on distributed generation provides an opportunity to review developments in distributed energy generation programs in Michigan. Lastly, we congratulate and commend the service of Commissioner Tremaine Phillips, who was recently named a Co-Vice Chair of the NARUC Committee on Telecommunications.

2020 was a time of change for all of us, and it was no different here at the MPSC. For a summary of the MPSC's activities over the past year, including the Commission's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, our work on Enbridge's Line 5 Act 16 application, and a look back on the first full year of the MI Power Grid initiative, check out our Year-in-Review.


Introducing Commissioner Peretick

Commissioner Katherine Peretick

Commissioner Katherine Peretick brings to the Commission her experience from the public and private sectors, where she focused on energy storage and technology development. She served as Director of Engineering at NRStor Inc., an international energy storage project developer, where she was recognized by the Energy News Network as a national leader and innovator in the energy transition on the "40 under 40" award list. Her experience also includes leading project engineering for long-duration energy storage technology company General Compression, international rotations in India and Denmark as a mechanical engineer as part of wind turbine manufacturer Vestas Global Leadership Development Program, and a fellowship with the U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. She also worked on the Juno and Curiosity spacecraft missions with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Commissioner Peretick served as vice president of Advancing Women in Energy and a member of Michigan Clean Energy Leaders. She holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering and a Master of Engineering in Energy Systems Engineering from the University of Michigan. Peretick, whose term commenced on January 4, 2021, succeeds Commissioner Talberg, who resigned her appointment to join the board of directors of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.

"Katherine is an independent thinker whose deep understanding of energy storage, renewable energy, and smart grid systems will help Michigan benefit from the changes taking place in the energy sector," said Governor Whitmer. MPSC Chair Dan Scripps noted, "Katherine will be the first engineer in recent memory to serve as a member of the Michigan Public Service Commission. Her background and significant expertise in energy innovation will be a great addition to the Commission and will better enable us to fulfill our mission of serving the public by ensuring safe, reliable, and accessible energy and telecommunications services at reasonable rates."

We welcome and congratulate Commissioner Peretick on her appointment, and we look forward to serving the State of Michigan alongside her!


Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Efforts

In February 2020, in an effort to formalize its promotion of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at the MPSC, the Commission updated its bylaws to include a non-discrimination policy as an employer and a regulator. Throughout 2020, however, the tragic murders of George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and others renewed and re-emphasized national dialogue about issues of race, equity, and inclusion. In June, the Commissioners acknowledged the killings and asked Staff to reflect on these events and how the issue of race and discrimination affect the Commission and the communities we serve.  

An internal team of Commissioners and Staff undertook the task of comprehensively examining the MPSC's practices and identifying opportunities to promote DEI in a fundamental, meaningful manner. Areas of focus include development of an official DEI policy statement, review of existing hiring and advancement practices, consideration of DEI context in regulatory strategies, and promoting education and awareness about DEI through internal learning opportunities and public outreach.

In 2020, the MPSC hosted trainings, webinars, and multiple online interactive conversations with DEI leaders from universities, utilities, corporations, and other state agencies. Furthermore, the results of a recently conducted internal diversity survey, which was responded to by over 60% of the MPSC's Staff, and the ongoing work of the DEI team will guide the Commission's actions in 2021 and beyond.

This important self-examination will strengthen the MPSC as an agency and will better equip us as public servants. We thank the MPSC's DEI group for its efforts thus far and look forward to its future work.

Anyone interested in learning more about the MPSC's DEI efforts can contact Shatina Jones (DEI Chair), or Al Freeman (DEI Co-Chair).


Distributed Generation Update

In December, Staff issued its annual report on distributed generation (DG) programs in Michigan. The DG programs enable customers to generate their own electricity, mainly through solar and wind projects, to reduce their energy needs or electric bills. Staff's report details the ongoing growth of the program over 2019, including a 53% increase in total electric generation capacity of DG installations in Michigan.

This expansion is expected to continue, and the MPSC will play a critical role in the future of DG in Michigan. It is worth highlighting some recent developments:

To date, the MPSC has approved DG tariffs for DTE Electric, UPPCO, I&M and Consumers Energy. The approved DG tariffs are based on an inflow/outflow methodology where the inflow is billed at the full retail rate and the outflow is credited at a lower rate as determined in the individual utilities' rate cases. Additional information regarding DG programs, DG tariffs, and inflow/outflow is available in this April 2018 DG Issue Brief.

While enrollment limits for the various utilities are defined by statute, two utilities have voluntarily increased the caps on their DG programs. In a settlement approved in Case No. U-20276, UPPCO agreed to increase its discretionary cap on DG participation from 1.0% to 2.0% of UPPCo's average peak demand during the past five years. Similarly, in Case No. U-20697, Consumers Energy indicated it would increase its discretionary cap on DG participation from 1.0% to 2.0% in 2021.

Total Category 1 (projects ≤20kW) DG Participation by MI Utility - Dec. 2020
Utility Participating Cap
Consumers 38.1 MW 76.2 MW
DTE 29.5 MW 54.7 MW
UPPCo 1.303 MW 1.357 MW

Additionally, the Commission announced it will be conducting a rate design study examining both costs and benefits of distributed energy resources (DERs) in the context of how customers with DERs use the grid now and into the future, and to vet different approaches to cost allocation and rate design to align with such usage. The results of this study will feed the Innovative Rate Design Offerings work area of the MI Power Grid initiative to facilitate the implementation of updated DG tariffs for Michigan utilities.


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 January 21, 2021 at 1:30 PM.


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


Subscribe to this Newsletter

Stay Connected with Us!

twitter icon

youtube icon

linkedin icon