LANSING – The Michigan Public Service Commission last week launched a new study that will examine the potential of renewable natural gas (RNG) development in Michigan, in accordance with Public Act 87 of 2021, approved by the Legislature and signed into law in September by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
PA 87 requires the Commission to conduct the study and report its findings to the Legislature by Sept. 30, 2022. Under the act, the MPSC study must:
- Identify existing and potential sources of renewable natural gas in Michigan and estimate the energy content and greenhouse gas abatement potential of these sources.
- Estimate the cost per unit of heat and the potential greenhouse gas emission reduction per unit of heat should potential RNG sources be used to the greatest practical extent.
- Compare the estimated per-unit cost savings of greenhouse gas emission reductions estimated for RNG sources to the estimated likely per-unit cost savings from the use of other carbon abatement technologies, including hydrogen blending, building electrification, and similar technologies.
- Estimate the RNG production potential by applicable feedstock sources in Michigan.
- Identify barriers to developing and utilizing RNG in Michigan.
Renewable natural gas is pipeline-quality biogas that is interchangeable with conventional natural gas used to heat Michiganders homes. It is derived from the breakdown of organic matter from sources including landfills, wastewater treatment plants, farm animal waste, crop residues and food waste. Capturing RNG from existing waste streams can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change, particularly if it is derived from sources that create methane emissions released into the atmosphere.
The order establishes the study workgroup of stakeholders, which will hold its first meeting Monday, Jan. 10, 2022, via videoconference using Microsoft Teams to begin its research and report on RNG inventory and scenarios, cost analysis, greenhouse gas estimates, abatement costs, and opportunities and barriers. A draft report will be sent to stakeholders for review by June 30, 2022, to give stakeholders the ability to provide feedback. A second stakeholder meeting will be held after the draft report is published to allow additional opportunities for comments.
A final report will be completed and submitted to Legislative committees with jurisdiction over energy and environmental issues by Sept. 30, 2022.
SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT ON CONSUMERS ENERGY’S REVISED DEPRECIATION RATES APPROVED
A settlement agreement covering Consumers Energy Co.’s application for accounting and ratemaking approval of depreciation practices for the utility’s electric and common plant was approved today by the MPSC (Case No. U-20849). The revised depreciation rates represent a $27.2 million annual decrease from existing rates. The Michigan Environmental Council, Citizens Utility Board of Michigan and the Association of Businesses Advocating Tariff Equity intervened in the case. MPSC Staff also participated. The approved depreciation rates are to take effect with the final order in Consumers’ pending general rate case (Case No. U-20963).
MPSC DIRECTS UTILITIES TO FILE UPDATED VOLUNTARY GREEN PRICING PROGRAMS, SEEKS COMMENTS
The MPSC today set dates for several of Michigan’s regulated electric utilities to file their updated voluntary green pricing (VGP) programs — through which customers voluntarily specify a certain amount of electricity purchases to be from renewable energy resources, with costs of the program billed to participating customers — and seeking comments from interested parties (Case No. U-18349) on utility VGP plans. The Commission directed Upper Michigan Energy Resources Corp. (Case No. U-18356), Alpena Power Co. (Case No. U-18350), and Northern States Power Co. (Case No. U-21173) to file their updated VGP proposals by Feb. 28, 2022, and DTE Electric Co. (Case No. U-21172) to file its updated VGP proposal by Aug. 31, 2022, with a contested case ordered in DTE Electric’s case. The Commission will accept comments on already filed VGP proposals from Indiana Michigan Power Co. (Case No. U-18353) and Upper Peninsula Power Co. (Case No. U-21152) until 5 p.m. Jan 10, 2022, with reply comments due by 5 p.m. Jan. 17. Comments on VGP proposals of Alpena Power, Northern States Power and Upper Michigan Energy Resources must be filed by 5 p.m. March 28, 2022, with reply comments due by 5 p.m. April 4. Written comments may be mailed to Executive Secretary, Michigan Public Service Commission, P.O. Box 30221, Lansing, Michigan 48909. Electronic comments may be filed through the Commission’s E-Dockets website or emailed to [email protected]. All comments should reference the pertinent case number.
COMMISSION TAKES STEPS ON ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE UTILITIES’ PLANS TO OFFER RURAL BROADBAND
The MPSC approved measures today addressing the expansion of broadband internet to rural areas of the state. In Case No. U-21006, the Commission approved some waivers from the Commission’s Code of Conduct rules governing competition but denied others sought by Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op in its effort to provide high-speed internet to the co-op utility’s customers now unserved or underserved by broadband. Presque Isle serves several counties in the northeast Lower Peninsula. In Case No U-21161, the Commission announced it is seeking comments on a request for Code of Conduct waivers sought by Thumb Electric Cooperative, doing business as TEC Fiber, which also is working to provide fiber-based broadband internet to unserved and underserved members of the cooperative utility. The Commission’s order seeks comments from interested parties to be filed by 5 p.m. Dec. 28, 2021. Documents may be submitted electronically through the MPSC’s E-Dockets website or emailed to [email protected]. Written comments may be mailed to Executive Secretary, Michigan Public Service Commission, P.O. Box 30221, Lansing, Michigan, 48909 or emailed to [email protected]. All comments should reference Case No. U-21161.
MPSC GRANTS ONE PERMANENT, ONE TEMPORARY LICENSE FOR PHONE SERVICE PROVIDERS
The MPSC today granted DMCI Broadband LLC a permanent license to provide basic local exchange phone service throughout Michigan (Case No. U-21115). The Commission in September approved a temporary license for DMCI. The Commission also approved a temporary license for CenturyTel Broadband Services LLC, doing business as CenturyLink Broadband, to provide basic local exchange phone service throughout the state (Case No. U-21143), in effect for no longer than one year or until the company is granted or denied a permanent license. Each company must file a tariff reflecting the services it will provide and exchanges where it will offer them before it can commence service.