Coverage from Tuesday’s hearing

On Tuesday, the Michigan House Energy and Technology Committee took testimony on the Electric Customer Freedom Act, which will restore electric competition to Michigan. Here’s a breakdown of some media coverage.

Platts: Michigan debates retail choice legislation

Michigan lawmakers on Tuesday began considering a contentious bill that would unshackle the state’s “hybrid” electricity market, lifting a 10% cap on retail choice while requiring electric utilities to divest their generation to an affiliate or other entity.

Republican State Representative Mike Shirkey told the Energy and Technology Committee in the GOP-controlled House of Representatives that his bill (H.B. 5184), is needed to control electric rates in Michigan that have risen by 30% since 2008, more than double the national average increase during that period. In 2008, the Legislature enacted the existing law that rolled back retail choice, clamping a 10% lid on competition and ushering in a 10% by 2015 renewable portfolio standard, among other things.

Shirkey said the state’s retail power prices have consistently climbed while wholesale power prices have fallen since 2007. The legislation, he said, “provides modernized regulation for Michigan electric energy policy that is demonstrably better than the current monopoly-style system.”

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MIRS: House Dives Into Electric De-Reg Debate, Senate Leader Not Interseted

Electric choice hearings kicked off in the House Energy & Technology Committee this morning, and while House Speaker Jase BOLGER (R-Marshall) is interested in debating the subject, the Senate leader is less than enthused.

Speaking to the Lansing Chamber’s legislative dinner this evening, Bolger said Michigan’s comparatively high electric rates put the state at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to business location.

Electric choice is a subject worth discussing, he said.

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Gongwer: House Panel Begins Electric Choice Debate

In a long anticipated hearing, the House Energy and Technology Committee took up a bill on Tuesday that would remove the 10 percent cap on electric choice in the state.

Supporters say the removal of the cap in HB 5184* would open the state’s electricity market to full competition and lead to lower rates for consumers. Opponents of the measure say it will not lower rates and could affect reliability and accessibility.

Rep. Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake), sponsor of the bill, said the 10 percent cap on electric choice is arbitrary, and he said Michigan has the highest electricity rates in the Midwest.

Mr. Shirkey said since 2008, electricity rates nationally increased by 3.5 percent, while in Michigan, rates increased by more than 26 percent during the same period.

He said the bill would allow companies and families to shop for best prices, while utilities will have to compete for business.

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