CUB’s 2021 Utility Performance Report Shows That Michigan Residents and Businesses Pay High Rates for Poor Service

The 2021 Utility Performance Report—the latest entry in our annual series of scorecards that rank Michigan utilities compared to those in the rest of the country—is out now!

Like last year’s report, this year’s edition again finds that Michigan utilities perform worse than average on most measures of reliability of service, affordability of energy and levels of environmental impact. But the 2021 report shows that these trends are either staying the same or getting worse, using numbers updated from last year with 2019 and (when available) 2020 data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The 2021 Utility Performance Report also covers more topics than the series has before, including data around Michigan’s high CO2 emissions from natural gas and a fuller picture of the affordability of home heating sources in Michigan.

Here are some of the most notable findings:

  • Michigan customers pay the 11th-highest residential electricity rate among the 50 states (16 cents per kWh).
  • In 2019, the Customer Average Interruption Duration Index (CAIDI, which measures how long it takes to restore power following an outage on average) for Michigan utilities was 5.92 hours, worse than 5.32 in 2018, including major event days. That makes Michigan 3rd out of the 50 states in terms of average outage restoration time, behind just California and Maine, and a downgrade from 8th among the states.
  • Excluding major event days, such as severe storms that may bias the ratings because some states have worse weather than others, Michigan’s CAIDI score also got worse: over 3 hours, up from 2.9 hours in 2018. That makes Michigan, again, the 3rd-worst state, this time behind Connecticut and West Virginia. In 2018 Michigan was the 2nd-worst state for CAIDI excluding major event days, behind West Virginia.
  • For 2019, Michigan is the 14th-highest state for the System Average Interruption Frequency Index (or SAIFI, which measures how often the power goes out, on average) with major event days. In 2018, Michigan was 24th for SAIFI with major event days.
  • 17th-highest state for SAIFI without major event days. In 2018, 25th-highest for SAIFI without major event days.
  • At 9.25 hours, Michigan was 4th-highest for the System Average Interruption Duration Index (SAIDI, which measures the average length of outage for each customer) in 2019, compared to 7.3 hours and 13th-highest in 2018, including major event days
  • SAIDI excluding major event days was 3.5 hours and 6th-highest in 2019, compared to 3.1 hours and 9th-highest in 2018.

The extent to which Michigan utilities perform worse than average across the board suggests that the roots of the problem lie in the utilities themselves, not external factors. With state legislators, the attorney general, the governor and many more people all talking about power outages in Michigan following the string of sustained blackouts this summer, our report is more relevant than ever.