Michigan Public Service Commission

Michigan Competition Plan Meets Opposition

Putting aside calls for a faster-paced switch to the new industry format, the Michigan Public Service Commission has adopted a phase-in schedule for customer direct access to alternative electricity suppliers that runs through 2002. The order, which some have said needs additional work, also outlines stranded cost recovery policies and related securitization strategies.

Under the plan, 2.5 percent of each electric utility's retail load will become eligible for customer choice each year from 1997 through 2001, with all customers eligible in 2002.

Mich. Examines Gas Brokering, Appliance Repair

The Michigan Public Service Commission has authorized Michigan Gas Utilities to increase rates and has ruled that revenues booked by an affiliate that offers administrative, gas brokering and appliance repair services should be included as part of the utility's net income.

The commission said Michigan Gas can increase rates $1.7 million, including an allowance for return on equity of 10.75 percent.

Michigan Gas had excluded from rate calculations revenues found unrelated to utility operations, such as an unregulated affiliate's propane operations.

Special Report

Senate panel lobs shots at FERC's slow merger approvals.

Wall Street analysts and shareholder reps are urging Congress to help electric utilities recover stranded costs during nationwide deregulation to prevent a "cratering" of energy stocks.

One analyst recently testified that investors never expected 100-percent recovery. Another suggested that federal legislators should let states hammer out their own solutions.

But determining fair compensation state by state won't be easy, as witnesses and lawmakers conceded at recent hearings on Capitol Hill.

PSC Disdains "Gradual" Reform in Consumers Power Settlement

The Michigan Public Service Commission (PSC) has approved a comprehensive settlement in a series of closely watched cases in which Consumers Power Co. had proposed to realign electric rates and cost recovery to anticipate retail competition in electricity.

Among other points, the settlement allows Consumers Power to implement a "direct access" tariff to meet anticipated competition for its largest customers.

Electric Discount Satisfies Mich. PSC

The Michigan Public Service Commission (PSC) has approved a request by Detroit Edison Co., to offer a special discount contract to one of its large industrial customers, MasoTech, Inc. The customer had failed in an earlier attempt to compel the utility to offer transmission service so that it could gain "direct access" to other sources of electric power. See, Re MasoTech Forming Technologies, Inc., 168 PUR4th 142 (Mich.P.S.C.1996).

Michigan Rejects LDC Capacity - Release Sharing

The Michigan Public Service Commission (PSC) has rejected a proposal by Michigan Gas Utilities, a local distribution company (LDC), to implement a 70/30 sharing mechanism for capacity-release revenue. (The LDC currently credits all such revenues to its customers through a gas-cost recovery mechanism.)

The PSC found the LDC's incentive plan lacking in safeguards to ensure that the company does not earn a windfall profit at the expense of ratepayers.

LDC Allows Retail Chain to Aggregate Facilities

The Michigan Public Service Commission (PSC) has authorized Michigan Consolidated Gas Co., a natural gas local distribution company (LDC), to enter into a special contract permitting KMart Corp. to aggregate its warehouse with its retail locations to qualify for transportation service at all sites.

LEC's Anti-slamming Program Draws Fire

The Michigan Public Service Commission (PSC) has directed Ameritech Michigan, a telecommunications local exchange carrier (LEC) to discontinue its advertising campaign for a special program billed as a protection against "slamming" (em i.e., switching a customer's long-distance service without their knowledge or consent.

LDC Must Offer Contiguous Billing, Absorb Special Discounts

The Michigan Public Service Commission (PSC) has reaffirmed an earlier decision requiring Consumers Power Co., a natural gas local distribution company (LDC), to absorb revenue losses associated with special discounts granted to large transportation customers under contracts and tariffs approved by the PSC. While directing the LDC to reduce base gas rates by $11.73 million, the PSC ruled that Consumers had failed to prove that the discounts were justified by cost of service or that the load-retention aspects of the discounts conferred a general benefit on ratepayers.

Michigan Reviews LEC Tariffs, Resale Provisions

While reviewing interconnection issues generic to competition in the telecommunications local exchange market, the Michigan Public Service Commission (PSC) has mandated that local exchange carriers (LECs) offer all basic local exchange services for resale at wholesale rates to competitors as well as affiliates.