Industrial electricity customers could choose their electricity supplier as part of a new bill

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A western Michigan state lawmaker introduced legislation that would give industrial electricity customers the ability to select alternative electricity providers in what supporters say is an effort to cut electricity costs and attract investments.

Senate Bill 695 – presented today by State Senator Roger Victory, R-Hudsonville, and co-sponsored by fellow Republican Sens. Dan Lauwers and Jim Stamas – reignites the debate on ‘electric choice’ in which utility customers can purchase electricity from alternative suppliers.

Michigan currently has a 10 percent cap on who can participate in electric choice. The vast majority of Michigan electricity taxpayers are investor-owned utility customers ETTD energy Where Energy consumers, except in places that are served by municipal or cooperative public services.

Victory announced the legislation in a virtual press conference with the Association of companies advocating fair pricing (ABATE), which represents heavy users with power.

Victory has repeatedly cited Michigan’s relatively high electricity prices as a driving force behind Ford Motor Co.the recent announcement to invest billions of dollars in electric vehicle manufacturing plants in Kentucky and Tennessee.

“It’s an important tool in our toolkit that can help spur innovation and investment and ensure Michigan is not left behind,” said Victory. “We have seen the consequences of maintaining the status quo.

The legislation would allow eligible industrial customers to purchase electricity from another supplier, regardless of the state’s 10% cap on a utility’s retail sales. The contract with another supplier should run for at least three years, and at least 80% of the customer’s load should come largely from state production. The customer of choice should also give at least five years’ notice before returning to full public service.

The bill would open up the electrical choice to new and existing industrial buildings with a peak electrical load of at least 2,000 kilowatts, which are often large energy-intensive companies.

ABATE executive director Rod Williamson said the legislation “will help grow Michigan’s economy by forcing utilities to be truly competitive in the marketplace instead of giving monopoly suppliers a high rate of return.”

Victory and Williamson have said they are ready for a legislative dispute with DTE and Consumers, which gives Lansing significant lobbying power. Ahead of the energy reforms that were finally passed in 2016, the two utilities helped reverse an initial proposal that would have returned Michigan to a state of full electric choice as it was in the early 2000s.

Utilities also argued that the departure of large energy consumers could increase costs for all other customers. Williamson countered that the five-year notice provision in the bill gives utilities enough time to prepare for load changes.

Additionally, Victory expects a “solid discussion” on his bill, but believes Ford’s announcement will help serve as a catalyst to move it forward.

“The future could be bright for Michigan if we get the right results,” he said.


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