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Approved rate hike not nearly as much as Consumers Energy wanted

Consumer Energy's headquarters building in Jackson, Michigan.
Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
Consumer Energy's headquarters building in Jackson, Michigan.

Consumers Energy did not get the rate hike it wanted, but customers still will pay more.

The Michigan Public Service Commission slashed Consumers’ requested rate hike by about 88%.

“I think it’s a good sign that the commission drastically reduced the rate increase that Consumers was looking for. I think it shows that the commission is really trying to figure out how it can address energy affordability for residential ratepayers,” said Charlotte Jameson with the Michigan Environmental Council.

She added that the smaller rate hike still continues a decade long trend.

“Year after year, we’re seeing rate increases to residential class [rates], and the other, particularly the industrial class rates, remain relatively flat.”

The average residential customer will see an increase of 59 cents a month.

Consumers Energy emailed a statement in response to the commission's decision.

"Our new economic development rate will not only help grow Michigan’s economy by attracting and retaining major manufacturers, but do so without shifting any costs to other customers," the company said. "The households we serve will continue to pay electric bills that are just below the national average, even as we strengthen the grid to reduce the number and length of power outages.”

The public service commission approved Consumers' proposed expenditures on increased tree trimming and improving its distribution system’s reliability. Concerns about those efforts arose after Consumers, DTE and other electric companies in the state have seen an increased number of power outages due to the growing frequency of intense storms knocking down power lines.

After heavy winds and rain swept through Michigan in August, both companies’ utility managers said the more intense storms of recent years are requiring them to use larger diameter utility poles and stronger fasteners to keep the wires in the air.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.
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