February 2021

 

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

In January we introduced Commissioner Katherine Peretick. Learn more about our new commissioner in this "Fast Five" feature. This month we cover recent developments in the MI Power Grid initiative, unveil the MPSC's new five-year strategic plan, and highlight some of the reports we submit to the Michigan Legislature. Additionally, in honor of Black History Month, we share some information about several of our staff members who play important roles supporting the MPSC's mission of serving the public by ensuring safe, reliable, and accessible energy and telecommunications services at reasonable rates.


MI Power Grid Updates

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Launched in October 2019, MI Power Grid is a focused, multi-year stakeholder initiative supported by Governor Whitmer and the MPSC to maximize the benefits of the transition to clean, distributed energy resources for Michigan residents and businesses. MPSC Staff issued a one-year status report on the initiative in October 2020. One of the recommendations from the report sought to address complications to the initiative's timeline caused by the emergence of the COVID pandemic. At its Feb. 4, 2021 meeting, the Commission issued an order in Case No. U-20645 that extended the date of a final MI Power Grid report to the third quarter of 2022, with a second status report due in the third quarter of 2021.

Additionally, as an outcome of the efforts of MI Power Grid's Energy Programs and Technology Pilots Workgroup, the Feb. 4 order in Case No. U-20645 adopted the following official definition of the term "pilot" in the context of energy regulation: "A pilot is a limited duration experiment or program to determine the impact of a measure, integrated solution, or new business relationship on one or more outcomes of interest." This definition, along with objective criteria listed in the order, will be applied to the Commission's considerations regarding submissions seeking funding approval for future utility pilot programs and will assist in the development and release of a publicly available Michigan Pilot Directory in the first half of 2021.

Also on Feb. 4, the Commission issued an order in Case No. U-20960 launching the Distributed Energy Resources (DER) Rate Design Workgroup. This group will seek to determine how customer-owned generation and energy storage are changing the way energy customers use the grid, explore cost allocation and possible customer charges, and propose rate design options. The Commission has enlisted the help of the Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP) to facilitate the exploration of rate design options for evolving energy technologies, with opportunities for feedback from stakeholders, and to assist in delivery of the study requested in Senate Resolution 142, adopted in September 2020.

The DER Rate Design Workgroup will convene its first stakeholder session on March 9, 2021, at 9 a.m. It joins three other currently active workgroups: Competitive Procurement, New Technologies and Business Models, and Integration of Resource/Distribution/Transmission Planning, which encompasses Phase II of MI Power Grid's Advanced Planning Processes efforts. For questions about the DER Rate Design Workgroup, feel free to contact the group's Staff Lead, Kevin Krause (krausek@michigan.gov). To learn more about the MI Power Grid initiative or to sign up for email updates, please visit www.michigan.gov/MIPowerGrid.

MI Power Grid logo


MPSC 2021-2025 Strategic Plan

The MPSC recently rolled out its five-year strategic plan for fiscal years 2021-2025. The comprehensive plan includes a revision to our previous mission statement and identifies key goals for the MPSC:

  • Empower customers to make informed utility choices;
  • Assure safe, secure, and reliable utility services and infrastructure;
  • Assure accessible and affordable utility services through regulatory oversight;
  • Cultivate open and diverse communication and education.

The plan defines the vision of the MPSC as being a best-in-class commission by making well-informed decisions at every level, meaningfully engaging the public, and enabling innovation for the future. We are excited about the completion of this important framework. The MPSC looks forward to implementing strategic actions and working toward these goals over the coming months and years as we strive to best serve the people of Michigan.


Reports to Legislature

The MPSC submitted two annual reports to the Michigan Legislature on Feb. 1: the Status of Electric Competition in Michigan and the Status of Competition for Video Services in Michigan reports.

The Status of Electric Competition report notes a slight decline in choice load due in part to changing consumption patterns amid the coronavirus pandemic in 2020; however, the demand for electric choice remains high with customers waiting for space to open up under the 10% choice cap established by Public Act 286 of 2008.

The Status of Competition for Video Services report outlines a continued decrease in the number of customers subscribing to video/cable services. The MPSC does not regulate video/cable services, but it does work to resolve disputes between customers, municipalities, and service providers.


Honoring MPSC Staff During Black History Month

In honor of Black History Month, the MPSC would like to pay a special tribute to a few of our colleagues by sharing a bit about them and some of their own thoughts.

Wanda Clavon JonesWanda Clavon Jones is the Manager of the MPSC's Michigan Energy Assistance Program (MEAP) section. Originally from Detroit, Wanda joined the MPSC in 1987. Wanda has fond memories of working with her MPSC family over the years, particularly advising previous Commissioners on regional wholesale markets issues, planning the Mid-America Regulatory Conference, and participating in delegations to Abuja, Nigeria, for the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners and the United States Agency for International Development. Wanda says she admires her parents for advocating for justice and stressing the importance of education.

Charyl KirklandCharyl Kirkland is an Energy Analyst in the Electric Operations section. Charyl is from Holt and is a Reiki Master who enjoys meditation. Charyl has been with the MPSC since 2009, and her favorite MPSC memory is a cultural lunch potluck, because it was fun to taste different dishes prepared by coworkers and get to know more about the people she works with. Charyl says she is awed by the courage of Harriet Tubman in her efforts to lead other slaves to freedom.

Nyrhe Royal

Nyrhe Royal is an Engineer in the Act 304 and Sales Forecasting section. Nyrhe is from Okemos and has been with the Commission since 2006. Nyrhe is an active member in the Regulatory Ramblers Toastmasters Club at the MPSC. Nyrhe says that something most people don't know about her is that she has worked at a library and at a bookstore in the past to support her love of reading and books. In honor of Black History Month, Nyrhe admires Madam C.J. Walker.


MPSC is Hiring

We're hiringWe have openings for six positions currently posted. Available positions include engineers, analysts, an attorney, and a section manager. All current postings close on Feb. 21. Our team consists of wonderful, dedicated people who work on important energy and telecommunications issues that affect all our fellow Michiganders. Join us by applying today at the Michigan Civil Service Commission's jobs site.


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 Feb. 18, 2021, at 1:30 p.m.


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.


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