FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 2, 2020
The Michigan Public Service Commission’s 2019 Annual Report released today highlights an exceptional year in which the agency launched a major effort to guide the state’s transition to maximize the benefits of the transition to clean energy, issued a Statewide Energy Assessment after a cold-weather energy emergency gripped the state, and refunded significant tax cut savings to ratepayers.
In addition, the report outlines how the MPSC continued its efforts to expand broadband across the state and help customers with heating bills and utility complaints.
The Commission also issued final orders in five electric and natural gas rate cases approving $417.5 million in rate increases in 2019, $245.5 million less than utility companies had sought. The main driver behind the rate increases has been spending on upgrades as utilities replace aging infrastructure to improve safety and reliability.
At the same time, the Commission completed its work to ensure corporate utility savings from the federal 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act were passed on to ratepayers. Through three rounds of calculations, the Commission ensured more than $4.1 billion was returned to customers through immediate bill credits and long-term adjustments to rates.
The year kicked off with a statewide energy emergency amid a polar vortex cold snap as a Macomb County compressor station fire limited the state’s natural gas supply, resulting in calls for customers to turn down their thermostats to conserve natural gas. A simultaneous regional electricity generation emergency led to customers on special interruptible rates being asked to reduce electricity use.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called on the MPSC to review the state’s energy supply and preparedness. The agency in September released a 200-page Statewide Energy Assessment outlining immediate steps the Commission and its Staff would take to ensure the state’s energy systems become more resilient and able to withstand extreme weather events, aging infrastructure and other challenges.
As the agency continued implementing the state’s 2016 energy laws, the MPSC also launched MI Power Grid, a multiyear effort supported by Gov. Whitmer to guide the state’s transition to clean energy as utility companies increasingly retire aging power plants and look to wind, solar and energy waste reduction as ways to meet the energy needs of their customers. MI Power Grid’s areas of emphasis are customer engagement, integrating emerging technologies, and optimizing grid performance and investments. Among its goals is a modernized electric grid that will improve reliability and facilitate adoption of new technologies, from electric vehicles and electricity storage to smart sensors and controls.
Providing customer assistance and help for vulnerable residents remained a top priority for the MPSC. The agency:
The MPSC’s annual report is due to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Legislature each year by the first Monday of March under Act 3 of 1939. Other highlights of the 2019 annual report:
Members of the Commission are Chairman Sally A. Talberg and two new members appointed in 2019 by Gov. Whitmer: Commissioners Daniel C. Scripps and Tremaine L. Phillips. The MPSC has 175 full-time employees with expertise in engineering, law, accounting, economics and other fields across its eight divisions: Administrative Services, Customer Assistance, Energy Operations, Energy Resources, Regulated Energy, Regulatory Affairs, Strategic Operations, and Telecommunications. As well, there is a staff of administrative law judges who are part of the Michigan Office Of Administrative Hearings and Rules.
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