July 2021


MPSC Spotlight png

Welcome to our first summer Spotlight of 2021! The July edition reviews the first year of our internal Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiative, provides an overview of securitization and the Commission's recent order in Case No. U-21015, and examines electrical safety issues related to marijuana home grow operations.

Commissioner Katherine Peretick

We are also excited to announce the reappointment of Katherine Peretick to a full, six-year term as MPSC Commissioner. Subject to the advice and consent of the Michigan Senate, Commissioner Peretick's new term spans July 3, 2021, through July 2, 2027. Her initial appointment, beginning in Jan. 2021, filled the remainder of the term vacated by Commissioner Sally Talberg. We look forward to continuing to benefit from Commissioner Peretick's invaluable expertise and continued leadership in the years ahead.

Lake Michigan hearing room dais

Additionally, we have an update on the status of our Commission meetings. Due to the expiration of the Eaton County State of Emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic, as of July 2, 2021, our Commission meetings are once again being held in person at the MPSC offices at 7109 W. Saginaw Hwy. in Lansing. Though in-person attendance has been reinstated, we recognize the value and flexibility that virtual participation has provided and will continue to offer remote attendance options (Microsoft Teams or dial-in) for the foreseeable future. Information for each meeting can be found on our website.

MPSC DEI 1-Year Anniversary

Following the tragic deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd in 2020, the Commissioners asked staff to reflect on these events and how the issue of race and discrimination affect the Commission and the communities we serve. From this conversation a staff-driven effort emerged, and the Michigan Public Service Commission's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiative was formed. It proudly celebrates its first anniversary on July 22, 2021. Highlights and accomplishments of the initiative's first year include the following:

  • Conducting an internal diversity survey to establish a baseline of the Staff's attitudes and workplace experiences.
  • Creating a DEI mission statement that will be included on the MPSC's website.
  • Participating in a successful pilot program that removed personally identifiable information when evaluating resumes for new hires.
  • Meeting with several external stakeholders to learn about DEI best practices and how to apply those at the Commission going forward.
  • Undertaking an ongoing examination of how the MPSC can better reflect equity concerns in its regulatory activities.
  • Participating in similar DEI efforts within the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs and with other agencies and departments.
Diversity Tree with colorful hand prints for leaves

We recognize and thank the MPSC staff involved in the ongoing DEI efforts for their hard work and dedication. Conversations around these topics require openness and honesty and can often be difficult. We are proud of the work being done to ensure that matters of equity and inclusion are thoughtfully considered in our organizational culture and internal operations, as well as in our role as regulators.

U-21015 DTE Securitization

At its June 23 meeting, in a move that will lower costs for ratepayers, the Commission issued an order in Case No. U-21015 approving DTE Electric Co.'s securitization request related to the costs of retiring the coal-fired River Rouge electric generation facility and a surge in preventative tree trimming to improve reliability.

Securitization is a process authorized under Public Act 142 of 2000 by which a utility, following the issuance of a financing order by the MPSC, replaces existing debt and equity with lower-cost debt in the form of securitization bonds. Using the securitization process, rather than traditional cost recovery methods, results in lower costs for ratepayers since existing debt and equity is replaced by securitization bonds with lower interest rates.

As a result of this order, DTE customers may see two separate securitization line items on their bills:

  • a Distribution Securitization Charge, which will cover the tree trimming surge, will be billed to each distribution customer (including electric choice customers) over a period of not more than five years;
  • a Power Supply Securitization Charge, covering the retirement of the River Rouge plant, will be billed to power supply customers over a period of not more than 14 years.

Together these securitization measures will save ratepayers more than $27 million. The surcharges will be reviewed annually to ensure that the costs will be fully recovered within the specified time periods and to correct any under- or over-collections during the preceding 12 months.

For more details about securitization, check out our Securitization Issue Brief.

Electrical Safety Advice for Marijuana Home Grows

Since 2008, Michigan residents with medical marijuana patient and caregiver registration cards have been able to grow a limited number of marijuana plants. After Michigan voters legalized marijuana in 2018, Michigan residents 21 and over have also been able to grow up to 12 plants at their home. These developments have resulted in an influx of new residential growing operations that have a major impact on the electric grid.

Residential marijuana growers should understand the proper steps to take while planning their grow operation to ensure their safety, as well as the protection of their home and utility equipment. Overloading electrical equipment can cause damage and create fire hazards, which could lead to extended power outages in the surrounding community and put homeowners, electrical workers, and first responders at risk.

Growing marijuana in a home is a legal right, but it must be done safely and responsibly. Before starting a home grow operation, individuals should become familiar with local rules and ordinances, hire a licensed electrical contractor, and contact their local utility to ensure their electrical service is sized appropriately to serve the increased energy demand.

Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency logo

This June 25 release from the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA), in conjunction with Michigan's electric providers, offers advice for marijuana home grow operations.

Check out Michigan.gov/MRA for further guidance about how to grow marijuana safely.

MI Office of Administrative Hearings and Rules (MOAHR) is hiring Administrative Law Judges

MOAHR is hiring two administrative law examiners to conduct MPSC cases. As an advanced specialist administrative law judge (ALJ), these employees are responsible for consistently conducting highly complex and sensitive cases for the Public Service Commission. In these cases, the Commission makes the final decision prior to appeal to the courts. The decisions rendered in these cases have substantial economic and financial impact with statewide implications.  Extensive independent judgment is used to make decisions. Posting closes 7/23/2021 at 4:00 pm.

ALJ job posting

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 July 27, 2021 at 1:00 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.

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