Rep. Gary Glenn (R-Midland), the vice chair of Michigan’s House Committee on Energy Policy, introduced legislation to expand the electric retail market in the Wolverine State on September 17 – positioning the new policy package as an alternative to current measures that seek to eliminate energy choice in the state.
“Seven years ago, Lansing mandated that 90 percent of the electricity market be given to two utility companies, and we’ve all been paying the price ever since,” said Glenn, at a press conference. “During that time, there are at least 11,000 Michigan customers who have been waiting for years to enjoy the benefits of electric choice, which would save them $235 million each year.”
By contrast, Glenn claimed, the “anti-market” bill currently being considered by the legislature, Senate Bill 437 would result in the elimination of the final 10 percent of electric choice – “devastating the over 6,400 Michigan consumers, public schools, large and small businesses, hospitals, and nonprofits that have saved over $400 million through the choice option.”
As introduced on July 1 by Senator Mike Nofs (R-19th District) chair of the Senate Energy and Technology Committee, and Senator John Proos (R-21st District), vice chair of the committee, Senate Bill 437 would not eliminate the retail electric market, but would place constraints upon participants. For example, the bill would require any shopping customers to give utilities three years’ notice that they wish to return to standard service and if they do that, would not allow them to shop again.
By contrast, Glenn’s legislation not only maintains the electric choice program in Michigan, but expands participation to local school districts, colleges and universities along with other state and local government entities, profit and nonprofit hospitals and inpatient health-care facilities, those purchasing renewable energy and Michigan families/residential customers.
“The centerpiece of the package allows all public schools, colleges, hospitals and other taxpayer-funded services to save tax dollars by joining the energy choice market without it counting against the arbitrary 10 percent energy choice cap imposed in 2008,” Glenn said, in introducing the measure, adding,. “Making this change will help these entities to save hundreds of millions of dollars on electricity every year, while also freeing up their share of the 10 percent choice market so additional private sector customers presently on the waiting list can participate in the program savings.”
His legislation also requires electric utilities to use a transparent, competitive bid and supply planning process.
“Despite what Michigan’s utilities and those who support a monopoly for them would have you believe, arriving at the best energy policy for Michigan is not overly complicated,” Rep. Glenn said. “In my district, Bay City schools save $200,000 a year on electricity expenses, but every school in Midland County is prohibited by law from accessing the same savings; similarly, Saginaw Valley State University saves $200,000 a year, while Delta and Northwood colleges are prohibited.”
The individual bills representing Rep. Glenn’s energy package are expected to be introduced over the coming weeks.