Consumers Energy is the last major regulated utility to undergo the process with the Michigan Public Service Commssion (PSC) to determine the new Distributive Generation (DG) Tariff that replaces the older Net-Metering policy that has been the law since 2008. In 2016 Michigan's Energy Law was changed and one part of this new law required the PSC to determine the new Distributive Generation Tariff that replaces Net Metering for each utility. DTE, Indiana Michigan Power and the Upper Peninsula Power Company have all gone through this process and now Consumers Energy is going through this process now.
Consumers Energy filed its latest rate case (U-20697) in late February asking for an outrageous 14% increase in residential rates and asking for the same Distributive Energy Tariff that DTE received which is about 7.34 cents per kilowatt-hour. GLREA filed to be an intervenor in the case, and we are now working very hard to put pressure on the PSC to reject what Consumers has proposed and approve a Distributive Energy Tariff that reflects the true value of solar that solar owners export back to the Grid, when their solar system is producing more electricity than they can use at a given moment.
GLREA is working with the Environmental Law and Policy Center, Vote Solar, Solar Energy Industries Association and the Ecology Center on this Case. We have hired three 'expert witnesses' who are helping us to develop our Proposal that solar energy that is exported to the Grid, is much more valuable than what Consumers Energy says it is. Extra solar electricity is usually sent back to the Grid in July and August when the sun shines the most and the days are long. This occurs at the exact time that demand for electricity is the highest because of high air conditioning use. So the more electricity that is sold back to Consumers, means they can meet this high demand with solar electricity from solar owners and Consumers has less of a need to start up expensive 'peaker power plants.' This saves Consumers money but they don't want to acknowledge this.
Consumers Energy does not like small scale solar because they view this as a threat to their monopoly business model. Consumers wants to continue business as usual by having homeowners, farmers and business buy electricity from them rather than rate generating it themselves. So Consumers Energy is doing everything it can to undercut the market for small scale solar. Thats why they down play the value of solar that is put on the Grid from solar owners and only want to pay about 7.4 cents per kilowatt-hour. Remember, under net-metering, Consumers has to pay the same rate rate for this electricity around 15 cents per kilowatt-hour that rate payers have to buy from Consumers. So the new proposed DG rate by Consumers is less than half of what they have been paying.
GLREA thinks is very important that all homeowners, farmers and business have the option of generating your own electricity if you want to. We think is fundamentally wrong that Consumers Energy is trying to take this right away. Of course Consumers says they are not trying to do this, but actions speak louder than words. Its very clear by their actions that Consumers Energy is trying to crush the small scale market for solar. Meanwhile the rates that Consumers charges for electricity goes up every year and now they have asked for another rate increase of 14% at a time when many people have lost their jobs and are struggling to get by because of COVID-19!
The Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association (GLREA) believes this is flat-out wrong and that all individuals, homeowners and business should have the freedom and the right to install a renewable energy system to generate their own electricity, if they choose to.
The utilities should be careful because of the law of 'unintended consequences' could take effect. If Consumers Energy keeps increasing rates and are not willing to pay a fair price for solar electricity, then solar users might start incorporating new very efficient batteries that are now becoming available so rather than selling their extra electricity to the utility, solar owners and business will just store it in batteries and use it at night and reduce the need for the utility even more! Please become a Member of GLREA if you are not already so we will have the resources to take on the utilities! Click on Become a Member this will take you to the Membership page and you can join!
Thanks for all your help. If you have any questions please contact John Freeman at Jfreeman13@comcast.net.