MLive: Consumers Energy's residential customers could see renewable-energy surcharge disappear, pending state approval

August 22, 2013

MLive: Consumers Energy's residential customers could see renewable-energy surcharge disappear, pending state approval

JACKSON, MI – Consumers Energy’s residential customers could see a 52-cent surcharge for renewable energy disappear from their bill, but that doesn’t mean the cost for being green will go away.

The company has proposed eliminating its standalone renewable surcharge which has appeared on electric customers’ bills since September 2009, said spokesman Dan Bishop. The proposal was submitted to the Michigan Public Service Commission early this summer. Consumers Energy has reduced the surcharge twice already — In September 2012, the surcharge went from $2.50 to 65 cents and in May it was reduced again to 52 cents.

The company has proposed those costs be rolled into its power supply cost recovery factor, which reflects the cost of power purchased on behalf of customers, he said.

“Renewable energy costs, while still higher than base-load generation (from coal, natural gas and nuclear sources), have decreased,” Bishop said. “It’s a little bit less expensive but it has not gone away.”

Under the state’s energy-reform law, utilities are required to have 10 percent of their power come from renewable energy sources by 2015.

DTE Energy submitted an amended renewable energy plan to the MPSC in June and proposed lowering its renewable energy surcharge from $3 a month to 43 cents a month, said DTE Energy spokesman Scott Simons.

He said the company is experiencing lower costs to purchase power and build its own energy parks and has been able to reduce the amount needed to meet the state’s renewable energy goal.

Federal production tax credits have also helped to offset those costs, Simons said.

In February, the Michigan Public Service Commission released a report, saying Michigan has seen more than $1.79 billion in investments to bring renewable energy projects online. The report also stated that the cost of renewable-energy contracts submitted to the MPSC continued to show a downward pricing trend.

Plans are currently in the works for Consumers Energy’s second wind farm to help meet the state’s renewable energy requirement, Bishop said.

Consumers Energy recently signed a contract with GE (General Electric) to provide 62 wind turbine generators for its 105-megawatt Cross Winds Energy Park in Tuscola County.

The project was initially estimated to be a $250 million investment, but will likely be reduced due to project developments, company officials have said. The company is pursuing a 10-year, $100 million federal production tax credit that will help bring down costs, Bishop said.

“That project is on track,” Bishop said. “We continue to be Michigan’s leading supplier of renewable energy.”


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