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MPSC kicks off annual assessment of funding factor for program that provides low-income energy assistance
May 26, 2022
Media contact: Matt Helms 517-284-8300
Customer Assistance: 800-292-9555
The Michigan Public Service Commission today launched its annual assessment of the funding factor for the Low-Income Energy Assistance Fund (LIEAF), which provides critical energy assistance and self-sufficiency services to Michigan households that meet income qualifications (Case No. U-17377).
The LIEAF program raises a maximum of $50 million each year, through a monthly per-meter charge assessed on retail electric billing meters in all rate classes that cannot exceed $1. The surcharge last year was set at 87 cents.
Funds raised through LIEAF are distributed through nonprofit service agencies across the state through the Michigan Energy Assistance Program (MEAP), which in 2021 provided energy assistance and self-sufficiency services to 57,101 qualifying households. The MPSC administers MEAP in partnership with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services by approving grants to nonprofit organizations that provide direct assistance to qualifying customers.
The MPSC is required to set the LIEAF funding factor no later than July 31 each year for the following fiscal year, based on participation by investor-owned, municipally owned and rural electric cooperative utilities.
Electric utilities must file by 5 p.m. June 30, 2021, information showing the number of retail billing meters the utility serves that are subject to the LIEAF funding factor, or file notice that the utility intends to opt out of collecting it. Under the law, non-participating utilities are not allowed to shut off service to any residential customer from Nov. 1 to April 15 for nonpayment of a delinquent account. In addition, state law requires that funds need to be returned to the regions of the state from which they were collected, to the extent possible.
Energy assistance is available for customers in need. Residential utility and propane customers in financial distress can contact their utility for help or seek assistance by calling 211 or applying for State Emergency Relief. Income-eligible Michiganders also may apply for the Home Heating Credit. Visit www.michigan.gov/mpsc for additional consumer tips and utility contact information.
LIEAF, created through Public Act 95 of 2013, is a significant source of help for families struggling to pay home energy bills. Recognizing the COVID-19 pandemic’s extraordinary impact on Michigan’s economy and household finances, the MPSC began reexamining energy affordability and assistance issues comprehensively in 2020.
The Commission established an Energy Affordability and Accessibility Collaborative whose work so far has included launching a public database with utility customer shutoffs and arrearages and creating an energy assistance outreach toolkit distributed to advocacy groups and other stakeholders to help spread awareness of energy assistance programs. Ongoing work includes holding a series of energy assistance fairs across the state — one was held in Gaylord April 18 and another this week in Benton Harbor — bringing together utilities, service agencies and other organizations to provide utility assistance and to hear input on energy affordability, accessibility, and the availability of energy assistance programs.
In late April, the MPSC and partners attended the kickoff meeting of the Low-Income Energy Policy Board (LIEPB). The board brings together policy leaders, MPSC Staff and other stakeholders, and residents with lived experiences, to help inform and guide the agency’s work on energy efficiency, affordability, and accessibility. The goals of the LIEPB are to broaden participation of historically marginalized communities; coordinate efforts with several task forces and councils across state government to develop cohesive policies across state agencies; and hold a low-income energy policy summit in 2022. The advisory committee’s work will include cross-pollination of policy and coordination, communication, decision making, and planning.
MPSC SETS PUBLIC HEARING ON PROPOSED INTERCONNECTION AND DISTRIBUTED GENERATION RULESET
The MPSC today announced a second public hearing to provide the public the opportunity to comment on proposed Interconnection and Distributed Generation Standards ruleset (Case No. U-20890). The MPSC has proposed updates to the ruleset as part of the ongoing MI Power Grid effort to maximize the benefits of Michigan's transition from centralized, large power plants to clean, distributed sources of energy. The public hearing will be June 22, 2022, at 9 a.m. at the Commission’s offices at 7109 W. Saginaw Highway in Lansing. The public hearing will be legislative in nature and any interested persons may present data, views, questions and arguments regarding the issues. Input also may be submitted by email to email@example.com or by mail to Executive Secretary, Michigan Public Service Commission, PO Box 30221, Lansing, MI 48909. All correspondence should reference Case No. U-20890.
MPSC APPROVES ONE INTEGRATED RESOURCE PLAN WAIVER, DENIES ANOTHER REQUESTED BY DTE ELECTRIC CO.
The MPSC today approved one waiver request and denied another that DTE Electric Co. sought in relation to its long-range energy plan the utility intends to file later this year (Case No. U-21193). The Commission today approved DTE Electric’s request to use two updated studies — the 2021 Energy Waste Reduction (EWR) and Demand Response (DR) Statewide Potential Studies — instead of the 2017 EWR and DR Potential Studies referenced in Michigan Integrated Resource Planning Parameters (MIRPP) requirements. The Commission rejected, however, DTE Electric’s request to waive the MIRPP requirement directing the company to model the return of 50% of its retail choice load back to the utility by 2023; the company had sought instead to model the return by 2027. The Commission found the request unreasonable given tightening electric capacity in Michigan and the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, the regional grid operator that covers most of the state, leading to higher market prices for capacity, along with substantial increases in prices for natural gas that fuels power plants. The higher costs could increase the probability of choice load returning to the utility.
To look up cases from today’s meeting, access the MPSC’s E-Dockets filing system.
Watch recordings of the MPSC’s meetings on the MPSC’s YouTube channel.
For information about the MPSC, visit www.michigan.gov/mpsc, sign up for its monthly newsletter or other listservs, or follow the Commission on Twitter or LinkedIn.
DISCLAIMER: This document was prepared to aid the public’s understanding of certain matters before the Commission and is not intended to modify, supplement, or be a substitute for the Commission’s orders. The Commission’s orders are the official action of the Commission.
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