LANSING, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – Going against the wishes of many Michiganders and organizations like the Michigan Chamber, the Michigan Farm Bureau and the Michigan Townships Association who want local control in their communities regarding the development of energy projects, the Democrat party still went ahead with the passage of House Bills 5120 and 5121. Those bills gave the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC), a three-member body whose members are appointed by the governor, control over large wind, solar and energy storage proposals in the state. On November 28th, Michigan’s Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed those bills into law.
Also on the 28th, Gov. Whitmer signed climate change legislation that creates an energy standard that goes along with her “Healthy Climate Plan,” requiring Michigan energy companies to meet a 100% clean energy standard by 2040. The legislation is part of an overall green energy agenda to push Michigan away from fossil fuel and towards carbon free energy by 2040, regardless of whether the grids are ready or not and regardless of whether or not a majority of Michiganders want it to happen.
Then, only three days after Gov. Whitmer signed the energy bills into law, the MPSC announced that they unanimously approved a $368 million rate increase for customers of DTE Electric Company. The MPSC says in their press release that the increase is to fund the company’s “planned infrastructure investments to boost reliability and speed up deployment of clean energy generation.”
DTE Customers should probably consider themselves lucky that the proposed $622 million rate increase that was initially asked for was not approved. The new rate increases on DTE’s 2.3 million Michigan customers will take effect on December 15th and will cost the typical residential customer about $7 extra a month.
Although the rate increase request was filed for in February, the timing of the decision, coinciding with the Democrats’ energy bills being signed into law, was not optimal with DTE admitting that they need to make up for costs relating to the Democrats’ plans for the state’s new energy future.
The rate hike also comes on the heels of an increase in prices that happened back in June when DTE and Consumers Energy increased rates for “peak” times during the day when their customers use electric from 3 to 7 pm. Those increases started in June and ended in September. It is unknown if those rate hikes for peak times will be an annual event with the MPSC ordering DTE to conduct a study examining the “impact” of those rates on low-income customers. The company has also been ordered by the MPSC to analyze equity and disproportionately impacted customers as they proceed with their goals, policies and electric distribution plans.
Republicans in the state’s House of Representatives immediately jumped on the DTE rate increases and criticized the Democrats’ green energy agenda as one that will continue to drive up energy prices in the state.
House Republican Leader Matt Hall (R-Richland Township) said on Friday that the DTE rate hike is only the beginning after Democrats’ green energy mandates. He issued the following statement about the increases: “DTE’s $368 million electric rate increase on Michigan residents and job providers is nothing compared to what’s coming down the pipeline next. The utilities will collect a windfall under Democrats’ energy mandates that became law this week. These mandates require big electric companies to close reliable natural gas power plants and spend massive sums on green technology, and then they’ll pass all the costs on to their customers – thanks to Democrats repealing a cap on excessive rate hikes. Families across Michigan will see their home electricity bills jump upwards while the utility companies line their pockets.”
Rep. Hall explains why DTE raised their rates by saying, “DTE said it needed the rate increase in part to comply with the state’s existing clean energy goals – requirements much smaller than Democrats’ new clean energy mandates. The ‘100% clean energy’ laws Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed this week will effectively ban natural gas power plants by requiring expensive, impractical technology, instead shifting to more wind and solar, which are less reliable power sources than natural gas. The bills repealed a rate cap, a move that will allow utilities to pass on 100% of the green energy implementation expenses to ratepayers.”
State Rep. Ken Borton (R-Gaylord) also spoke out against the rate increases, saying, “The governor’s appointed bureaucrats didn’t even let her signature dry before helping utility companies pass increased renewable energy costs onto customers. It’s disturbing to see how quickly this terrible new policy will drain the pockets of everyday people. Families up north and across Michigan are already dealing with high costs from inflation this holiday season. Lansing Democrats are piling the bills even higher as they work to please radical environmentalists and the fat cat utility companies.”
House Republican Floor Leader Bryan Posthumus (R-Cannon Twp.) also issued the following statement: “We tried to warn everyone this would happen, and it sure didn’t take long: the beginning of an era of unprecedented expenses for Michigan families has begun. While the Governor has been saying her Green New Deal would save people money, it only took a couple weeks to prove that to be a lie. Turns out all that pie in the sky is actually pretty expensive; green energy fairy tales don’t pay for themselves. By ratifying this deal, the commission and Governor Whitmer’s administration are telling us exactly who they are and exactly what they want A black hole has been created, pulling in billions of dollars and returning absolutely nothing. And now it is starting to grow.”
Rep. Posthumus went on to say, “The utility rate hike was announced the same day Governor Whitmer’s population commission released its recommendations on how to grow Michigan’s population. The irony would be hilarious if it wasn’t so disastrous for the people of Michigan. Democrat policies are driving people from this state by making it more difficult to find a job and more expensive to raise a family. The recipe to grow our population has been demonstrated: Affordable cost of living, safe communities, less red tape for neighborhood job providers, and transformational investment in our urban centers. Instead, Democratic leadership has chosen to make utility costs skyrocket, and entertain tax increases proposed by the ‘population commission.’ They aren’t just shooting from the hip, they are firing a machine gun in the pitch black, and it’s the people are going to pay for it – literally.”