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MPSC announces organizational changes
December 09, 2022
Media contact: Matt Helms 517-284-8300
Customer Assistance: 800-292-9555
MPSC announces organizational changes to reflect ongoing evolution of energy and telecommunications industries
Reorganization reflects learnings from MI Power Grid initiative; focus on distribution system planning, increasing distributed energy resources, and promoting safety of gas operations
The Michigan Public Service Commission today announced a series of organizational changes designed to ensure the MPSC’s continued effectiveness as the energy and telecommunications industries continue to evolve.
The moves incorporate many of the lessons learned through the Commission’s MI Power Grid initiative, a focused, multi-year effort launched in 2019 in partnership with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to maximize the benefits of the transition to clean, distributed energy resources for Michigan residents and businesses, and also reflect the growing role customers play as active participants in the energy transition.
Some of the more notable changes announced today include:
- The establishment of a new Distribution Planning Section, focused on improving reliability and the planning necessary to accommodate growth in electric vehicles and other distributed energy resources. This section will be led by Dr. Joy Wang, a public utilities engineer who has spearheaded a number of the MI Power Grid workgroups and served as an expert witness on distribution-related issues.
- The creation of a new Interconnection and Distributed Energy Resources Section, focused on interconnection rules and procedures and the operations of distributed energy resources, reflecting the growth in rooftop solar, batteries, demand response, and other resources. This section is led by Jesse Harlow, a public utilities engineer who previously managed the Resource Adequacy and Retail Choice Section, and also worked in the former Renewable Energy Section.
- The establishment of a new Resource Adequacy and Forecasting Section, which will continue to focus on capacity demonstrations and demand response planning while also pulling disparate forecasting responsibilities from throughout the Commission into one section. This section will be led by Roger Doherty, a public utilities engineer who has led Commission efforts on forecasting and demand response, and served on the Commission’s modeling team.
- The creation of a new Data Access, Privacy, and Information Technology Section, which will lead Commission efforts on customer data accessibility and privacy and will continue to review IT and smart grid spending in rate cases while assisting in review of customer experience spending requests. This section will be led by Lauren Fromm, a public utilities engineer who has served as an expert witness on IT and smart meter issues in a range of Commission proceedings.
- The merging of functions relating to energy choice, licensing, and utility code of conduct compliance into a new Competition, Licensing, and Analytical Support Section, which will administer gas and electric choice programs, evaluate issues of competition between regulated and unregulated energy services, and help to monitor and track utility pilot programs. This section is led by Kirk Forbes, who served as manager of the previous Analytical Support Section.
- The creation of a new stand-alone Gas Safety and Operations Division, reflecting the importance of ensuring the safety of natural gas infrastructure in Michigan. This new division, which was previously housed within the larger Energy Operations Division, will continue to be led by Dave Chislea, a public utilities engineer with deep experience in gas safety and operations, including prior service as chair of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners’ Staff Subcommittee on Pipeline Safety.
- The consolidation of responsibilities within the Telecommunications Division as that industry also continues to evolve, including the expiration of the state’s 10-year Access Restructuring Mechanism and the division’s role in facilitating historic levels of funding for broadband buildout and accessibility.
- The update of responsibilities within several existing sections to better streamline regulatory responsibilities. The Resource Optimization and Certification Section, under the continued leadership of Naomi Simpson, will maintain focus on integrated resource planning and transmission siting, while taking on responsibilities related to utility renewable energy and voluntary green pricing programs. The Energy Security Section, under the continued leadership of Alex Morese, will take on responsibilities related to carbon mitigation in addition to existing energy security and emergency planning/management responsibilities. The Energy Cost Recovery and Generation Operations Section (previously known as the Act 304 and Sales Forecasting Section), under the continued leadership of Nora Quilico, will maintain a focus on cost recovery proceedings conducted under Act 304 of 1982, and will take on review of electric generation capital expenditures in rate cases moving forward. Finally, the Energy Cost Recovery Reconciliations Section (previously known as the Act 304 Reconciliations Section), under the continued leadership of Dolores Midkiff-Powell, will be housed with other staff accountants and auditors in the Regulated Energy Division and will maintain responsibility for truing up actual costs with revenues in Act 304 proceedings.
“Today’s announcement reflects the Michigan Public Service Commission’s commitment to keeping pace with the changes taking place in the energy and telecommunications industries we regulate,” said MPSC Chair Dan Scripps. “We’re seeing an historic shift in the growth of distributed energy resources and the role of the customer as an active participant in the energy transition, and we need to ensure we have the data, planning, and operational oversight necessary to continue as effective regulators. I’m confident that these organizational changes, including the naming of a number of MPSC employees to new managerial roles, will allow us to do just that.”
MPSC OKs CONSUMERS ENERGY’S POWER SUPPLY COST RECOVERY RECONCILIATION FOR CALENDAR YEAR 2020
The MPSC today denied a petition for a rehearing on a matter in the Commission’s recent approval of Consumers Energy Co.’s most recent power supply cost recovery, or PSCR, reconciliation (Case No. U-20526). In August, the Commission approved Consumers’ PSCR reconciliation for the 2020 calendar year. The Association of Businesses Advocating Tariff Equity (ABATE) later filed a petition for a rehearing of its recommendation that zonal deliverable benefit credits and zonal resource credits should be considered as part of net additional costs from an extended outage at Consumers Energy’s Ludington Pumped Storage Plant on Lake Michigan in 2020. ABATE argued that the Ludington outage caused the auction clearing price in the Midcontinent Independent System Operator’s 2020-2021 planning year to be set at the cost of new entry (CONE) for Zone 7, an argument rejected by the administrative law judge (ALJ) in the case and ultimately by the Commission in its August order. The Commission today found that evidence in the case clearly addressed ABATE’s arguments and the Commission did not err in adopting the ALJ’s recommendation.
COMMISSION APPROVES DTE GAS CO.’S GAS SUPPLY COST RECOVERY RECONCILIATION
The MPSC today approved DTE Gas Co.’s gas supply cost recovery (GSCR) reconciliation for the 12 months ending March 31, 2021 (Case No. U-20544). Today’s order directs the utility to reflect a net underrecovery, with interest, of $5,421,024 as its 2021-2022 gas cost recovery reconciliation beginning balance, and a net overrecovery, with interest, of $2,014,855 as its 2021-2022 gas customer choice beginning balance.
MPSC OKs BRIEFS IN REOPENED RECORD IN UPPER PENINSULA POWER CO.’S APPLICATION FOR APPROVAL OF ENERGY WASTE REDUCTION PLAN
The Commission previously reopened the record in Upper Peninsula Power Co.’s application for approval of its energy waste reduction (EWR) plan and related surcharges for the 24 months ending Dec 31, 2023 (Case No. U-20879). Finding that evidence on the record is insufficient, the Commission reopened the record for parties to file additional testimony and evidence pertaining to issues surrounding the Real Time Market Pricing class, of which the sole member, Verso Corp., raised concerns about costs and benefits. Today, the Commission granted Verso’s request to include legal briefs in the schedule, directing that initial briefs of no more than 20 pages addressing the evidence presented in the supplemental record be filed no later than Dec. 30, 2022, and reply briefs of no more than 15 pages be filed by Jan. 13, 2023.
MSPC APPROVES CONSUMERS ENERGY’S LEGALLY ENFORCEABLE OBLIGATION CRITERIA UNDER PURPA
The MPSC approved legally enforceable obligation (LEO) criteria for Consumers Energy Co. that set requirements a qualifying facility must meet in evaluating its commercial viability under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978, or PURPA (Case No. U-21131). The LEO criteria spring from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Order 872 of 2020, part of FERC’s update and revision of PURPA rules. Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council and the Institute for Energy Innovation intervened in the case. Consumers Energy and MPSC Staff also participated.
MPSC CLOSES DOCKET IN SHOW-CAUSE ACTION ON SPARTAN RENEWABLE ENERGY
The Commission today closed the docket in Case No. U-21250, involving an enforcement action against Spartan Renewable Energy Inc. after the MPSC in June directed the alternative electric supplier to show cause why it should not be found in violation of statutory capacity demonstration obligations, and whether and how state reliability mechanism capacity charges should be assessed. The issue, spurred by Spartan not renewing an existing contract with an undisclosed 9.4 MW customer, was resolved when the incumbent electric utility in Spartan’s territory, Cloverland Electric Cooperative, filed an updated capacity demonstration, which the Commission accepted today. Cloverland’s updated filing indicates alternative capacity arrangements associated with the former Spartan customer, removing the need to implement the state reliability mechanism capacity charge.
COMMISSION APPROVES 211 TRANSFER IN MONROE COUNTY TO CENTRAL MICHIGAN 211
The Commission authorized the transfer of 211 service in Monroe County locations to Central Michigan 211 from the United Way of Southeastern Michigan (Case No. U-21288). Today’s order approves the transfer of 17 rate centers in Monroe County and designates Central Michigan 211 as the community resource information and referral answering point for the exchanges within (or primarily within) Monroe County: Britton, Carleton, Dundee, Erie, Flat Rock, Ida, Lambertville, Lost Peninsula, Maybee, Milan, Monroe, Newport, North Sylvania, Petersburg, Rockwood, Temperance and Trenton. Central Michigan 211 agrees to provide resources for 211 service 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The order also requires providers of basic local exchange phone service to take steps to allow customers to access Central Michigan 211 by dialing 211.
MPSC OKS DTE GAS CO. VOLUNTARY CUSTOMER REFUND OF UP TO $20M
The MPSC today approved an application by DTE Gas Co. for a voluntary customer refund of up to $20 million and accounting procedures necessary for it (Case No. U-21331). The company said its 2022 financial results may exceed expectations “due to unforeseen circumstances” and concludes it is in its customers best interests to receive the refund. DTE Gas must file documentation substantiating the final amount of the refund by Dec. 27, 2022, and if MPSC Staff determines the documentation complies with the order, DTE Gas must file no later than Feb. 28 the proposed method of refund.
CONSUMERS ENERGY ONE-TIME VOLUNTARY REFUND APPROVED
Consumers Energy Co.’s application for a one-time voluntary customer refund – the exact amount of which won’t be known until closer to year’s end – was approved today (Case No. U-21332). The Commission directed Consumers to file a statement no later than Dec. 31 laying out the final amount, with MPSC Staff required to review the submission for compliance by Jan. 6, 2023. If the filing complies, Consumers must file a proposed method for refund no later than March 15, 2023.
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.
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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