Michigan PSC Seeks Public Comments On How To Fix Aging Electrical Grid

LANSING – The Public Service Commission announced Thursday it has begun a process for public input on the five-year distribution plans for three electric utilities.

Distribution plans and investment maintenance plans for Consumers Energy Company, DTE Electric Company and Indiana Michigan Power Company are to be filed with the PSC and will be available for review and comment from the public and interested stakeholders.

The plans look to the year 2022 and beyond. According to the PSC, they are an important factor in being able to evaluate investments in the state’s aging electrical distribution system in order to maintain their safe and reliable use.

DTE filed it distribution plan on January 31 and Consumers on March 1 in separate cases. These cases will now be consolidated in a case along with Indiana Michigan Power Company’s filing.

“The commission’s focus on long-range and transparent planning for our electric distribution systems benefits customers in two ways. Replacing aging infrastructure will improve safety and reliability. It will also help in integrating new technologies such as demand response, distributed generation and increased use of electric vehicles,” PSC Chair Sally Talberg said in a statement.

RATE INCREASE APPROVED: The first rate increase in more than six years for Indiana Michigan Power Company was approved by the Public Service Commission Thursday, going into effect later this month.

At $49 million, the approved rate increase will take effect on April 26. The company had originally sought an increase of $61.4 million.

According to the PSC, residential customers using 500 kilowatt hours of electricity per month would see an $11.77 monthly increase on their bills.

The company told the PSC its infrastructure improvement programs will help reduce the possibility of equipment-related power outages. These programs include work on overhead wires and poles as well as underground residential cable.

EXTREME WEATHER PROCEDURES: The commission ordered regulated natural gas and electric utilities to file an extreme weather condition policy by June 11 that outlines residential disconnection procedures during extreme cold or warm weather conditions.

The order comes following the death of 69-year-old resident during winter 2015. The commission will review each utility’s plans and decide whether to approve them.

ENERGY WASTE PROGRAM EXPANDED: DTE Electric and DTE Gas will be increasing how much is spent on energy waste reduction programs aimed at low-income customers under a settlement agreement announced Thursday.

A total of $5 million in additional funding for the Energy Efficiency Assistance Program will be put into the program for customers behind on their bills. At least $1 million must be used this year and the rest in 2019.

POLARIS WIND PROJECT: DTE Electric has been granted permission to enter into a contract with Polaris Wind Energy LLC to build the 168-megawatt Polaris Wind Park in Gratiot County.

Under the contract Polaris will build the wind park and DTE will buy the facility after completion and startup.

This story was published by Gongwer News Service