Midland Daily News: Our View: Good news for Michigan utilities
While it is not much money in the big picture of energy costs, the fact that Consumers Energy and DTE Electric are rolling back surcharges to subsidize green energy projects is good news for Michigan.
Consumers, which serves customers in mid-Michigan and other areas of the state, had already lowered its surcharge from $2.50 a month to 52 cents. Now it might drop the surcharge completely, as the utility ramps up construction of a wind farm in the Thumb area so it can qualify for a 10-year, $100 million federal tax credit.
Part of the reason these two utilities, which control 90 percent of the electric market in Michigan, are able to roll back these surcharges is that green energy is becoming more cost-efficient to produce. For example, the wind farm Consumers is planning in Tuscola County is expected to produce more power than initially projected, meaning the utility can purchase fewer turbines and still produce the same amount of power. As advances in technology occur, the efficiency of green energy will continue to improve.
We see a day in which Michigan’s two major utility companies are producing more than 10 percent of their electricity from green energy, which they are required to achieve by 2015. But we also believe that the utilities will continue to need more reliable sources of electricity from power plants of some type. As a Consumers official noted, wind farms only produce electricity 30 to 40 percent of the time; something has to fill that 60-70 percent energy void.
But the good news is that green energy is becoming more cost-effective, and that residential, business and industrial consumers of electricity will see their surcharge costs decrease. Reliable, cost-effective energy production is crucial to Michigan’s continued economic growth and prosperity.