Upper Peninsula Task Force Releases Draft Report on How to Avoid Propane Price Spikes

Percentage of Households with Propane, Draft of “Analysis of Propane Supply Alternatives for Michigan,” Public Sector Consultants, March 2020

The developing coronavirus crisis shows how everyday life can be upended by low-probability events. In energy, people are always talking about the importance of “resiliency.” Resiliency essentially means a system’s ability to respond to many different shocks. Events with relatively low probabilities often create the biggest system shocks.

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DTE’s Long-term Plan: Back to the Drawing Board

DTE’s Belle River coal plant. Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tgrab/16611294377

 

Last summer the Citizens Utility Board of Michigan wrote about how a utility’s integrated resource plan (IRP) is an important roadmap for the future of the business and its customers. DTE’s long-term plan, proposed last year, could force its 2.2 million customers in southeast Michigan to pay millions on their electric bills for power plants that may be unnecessary. During a nearly year-long period of review, CUB and many other parties, including AG Dana Nessel and groups like the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Natural Resources Defense Council, pointed out the flaws included in DTE’s plan.

Now the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) has finally reached an initial decision that essentially tells DTE to go back and fix many of the mistakes pointed out by CUB and other groups.

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Upper Peninsula Energy Task Force Looks at Pipeline Disruption Scenarios

The debate over the future of the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline has been one of the biggest energy and environmental stories for Michigan over the past couple years. The Line 5 controversy was one of the contributing factors in Gov. Whitmer’s decision last summer to form the Upper Peninsula Energy Task Force to examine how the energy-constrained region can confront a number of challenges while keeping heating and power prices under control, including the potential closure of Line 5.

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CUB of Michigan Tackling Proposals to Reduce Power Outages

A recloser is a type of electrical equipment used to automatically detect faults on a line. Source: TheEnergeticEngineer, Wikimedia Foundation.

The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) is undergoing a rare review of the standards for electric service quality and reliability, two things that all Michigan households depend upon to have a high quality of life. The Citizens Utility Board (CUB) of Michigan is participating in a Workgroup of utilities and other stakeholders that are advising the MPSC staff on how to update the standards, and any residential customer can get involved too (see our previous blog post about the first Workgroup meeting.)

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Upper Peninsula Power Co. IRP Shows That Renewable Energy Can Be The Most Affordable Option for Consumers

A settlement between Upper Peninsula Power Co. (UPPCO) – the largest energy provider in the UP – and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and other groups could clear the way for an impressive increase in the amount of renewable energy in the peninsula, as well as in the state as a whole.

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MI Power Grid Update: How You Can Help Get Better Electric Service in Michigan

Source: Michigan Public Service Commission

Amid mass power outages this past summer in the DTE and Consumers Energy service territories, tens of thousands of Michigan residents learned the hard way that the state badly needs to update its basic standards for electric service. Also, after more recent power outages, DTE COO and President Trevor Lauer recognized in a Dec. 31 interview that “we need to do a better job keeping lights on for our customers.”

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As Deadline Nears, Upper Peninsula Task Force Considers New Perspectives

Gov. Whitmer’s task force has just over three months left to issue its initial report on propane – the fuel source that 25% of Upper Peninsula customers rely on as their primary source of heating to get through some of the most brutal winter conditions in the lower 48. Nationwide, somewhere around just 6% of households use propane to stay warm at home (based on the National Propane Gas Association’s recent estimate that 7.8 million households use propane for in-home heating).

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Proposed Settlement Improves Fairness for SEMCO Gas Customers

SEMCO service territory highlighted in yellow above. Source: Michigan Public Service Commission.

 

The Citizens Utility Board (CUB) of Michigan has good news for the over 275,000 residential customers of SEMCO Energy Gas Co, the third-largest natural gas utility in Michigan. SEMCO has reached a settlement with the state Attorney General, the staff of the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC), the Retail Energy Supply Association and CUB that would resolve some of the biggest criticisms we made against SEMCO’s pending request with the MPSC to raise its rates. (You can read those criticisms in this previous blog post and an op-ed published in several newspapers.)

The MPSC approved the settlement on Dec. 6.

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How to Improve the Lansing Board of Water and Light’s Energy Waste Reduction Plan

This summer the Lansing Board of Water and Light (LBWL) filed with state regulators its Energy Waste Reduction plan for 2020 and 2021. This plan lays out what the municipal utility will spend on its whole suite of programs to help customers cut their energy use. Specifically, LBWL projects a total annual budget for energy waste reduction of $4,596,728 in each of 2020 and 2021. That is over $700,000 more than the utility had proposed for its 2018 program.

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SEMCO Gas Proposed Rate Increase Shows Warning Signs Ratepayers Should Watch

SEMCO service territory highlighted in yellow above. Source: Michigan Public Service Commission.

SEMCO Energy Gas Co. is not nearly as big of a name as DTE or Consumers Energy, but all Michigan residential ratepayers should take note of the latest rate increase request from SEMCO – the third-largest natural gas utility in Michigan. This case demonstrates a few of the common issues with utility rate cases that can be bad news for residential ratepayers.

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