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ECN: Workgroup’s Proposed Cost Shifting is Problematic

LANSING, MI — Energy Choice Now today submitted its response to the Michigan Energy Office’s “Energy-Intensive Industrial Rates Workgroup Report,” part of the Administration’s vision for a “No Regrets” energy future and released in draft form on July 7, 2014.

The workgroup was formed purportedly as a first step to address Michigan’s high electricity rates for “energy-intensive” users, in order to attract and retain these larger users and make Michigan better able to compete.

ECN noted that some of the tactics the workgroup discussed as a way to achieve that goal, such as cost-shifting, are problematic.

“By not addressing the underlying cancer affecting Michigan’s lack of competitiveness — the lack of competition in the electricity market — and to simply allow Michigan’s two largest utilities to cost-shift their way out of the problem rather than to tackle this problem head-on is irresponsible,” said Wayne Kuipers, ECN executive director. “It’s time policy makers start listening to all energy users, who just experienced five straight years of escalating rates, and focus on making lasting structural changes that will benefit all Michigan consumers.”

ECN also pointed out that the process lacked both inclusiveness and transparency. The group was closed to general participation, with only Public Service Commission staff, DTE Energy, Consumers Energy and several large Michigan electricity users invited to participate. No residential or commercial users or any competitive suppliers, which represent 10% of Michigan’s current market, were allowed in the discussions.

ECN requested that all materials and notes from the workgroup be made public so that all ratepayers, residential and business, have equal access to the information that was discussed and considered.

“For Michigan consumers, they are painfully and clearly aware of the higher eletric rates they are paying each month,” Kuipers continued.  “The process by which this workgroup attempted to address that problem, however, will only keep customers guessing.”

Posted in Press releases.