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EIBC: Michigan has large unmet demand for renewable energy among businesses

Consumers Energy

An advocacy group says Michigan utilities aren't meeting the business demand for renewables.

Laura Sherman is president of the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council.

She says Michigan utilities charge too much for their voluntary renewable energy programs. She says the programs aren't adequately recognizing that wind and solar are among the cheapest sources of electricity right now.

"It's a markup right now," says Sherman. "If it is the cheapest, then the customers should be reaping the benefit of that cheaper energy, long term."

DTE Energy says it bases the price for its voluntary renewable program "on the actual cost of the renewable assets at the time they were built."

Consumers Energy responded with this statement:

The Company will be filing proposed new customer renewable programs in this year’s Voluntary Green Pricing Program Biennial filing this October. We look forward to continued collaboration with our stakeholders in creating new programs and expanding program offerings to provide customers with the lowest cost option for those interested in subscribing to renewable energy sources.”

Sherman also says the utilities should allow any business or city to directly contract for energy with a renewable energy developer, and then bring that contract to the utilities for implementation.

Currently, only the 10% of business customers who are able to enroll in Michigan's "choice" market can choose their providers. The other 90% of businesses must get all their electricity from either Consumers Energy or DTE Energy (not counting solar panels they install on their own property.)

Editor's note: DTE Energy and Consumers Energy are corporate sponsors of Michigan Radio.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Radio. She began her career at Michigan Radio as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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