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consumers energy

A fast charging station for electric cars.
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Michigan's two largest utilities are committing to help build a network of fast charging stations across Midwest states - including Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma.

Fast chargers can partially recharge an electric car's battery in about 20 minutes, and fully recharge it in about an hour.

Courtesy of Kate Madigan

Consumers Energy is hoping to slash what it pays rooftop solar customers for the electricity they produce.

The utility wants to compensate those customers 46% less for their electricity than what it currently charges.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Environmental groups and consumer advocates want electric utilities to think more long term. The Citizens Utility Board of Michigan, the Michigan Environmental Council, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Sierra Club formed a coalition and hired a consultant to do an analysis of Michigan’s future demands on the electric distribution system. The coalition submitted testimony to the Michigan Public Service Commission regarding a proposed rate increase from Consumers Energy.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

A report this week from the U.S. government found coal consumption in 2019 was the lowest it’s been since 1978. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, electricity demand is down even more this year, and some utilities are shutting down their more expensive-to-operate coal-burning power plants.

Michigan’s two largest power companies, Consumers Energy and DTE Energy already have shuttered some coal-fired plants.

DTE's River Rouge plant
DTE Energy

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel wants what she calls "some shared sacrifice," from utilities to limit how much they get back from customers for pandemic-related costs.

Utility Bill
Flickr

The Citizens Utility Board of Michigan (CUB), a consumers advocacy group, says low-income gas and electric customers "are poised to experience a crisis of service like rarely seen before."

The group says there could be an unprecedented surge of people losing heat and electricity, after the state's moratorium banning utility shutoffs to low income customers ends on June 1st. 

More than a million people - a quarter of Michigan's workforce - have filed for unemployment since Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued her first "Stay Home, Stay Safe," executive order due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The severe downturn in the economy means many people could have trouble paying for basic needs - including  electricity and gas.

Utility trucks
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s two largest energy companies will be suspending shutoffs for non-payments in response to COVID-19 and its spread in Michigan. Both Consumers Energy and DTE Energy have suspended shutoffs for senior citizens and low-income eligibility households until April 5th.

For both Consumers and DTE, a low-income eligible household is one whose income is at or below 200% of the federal poverty level. For Consumers, a senior citizen is anyone 65 years or older, and for DTE it’s anyone 62 or older. 

 

piqsels.com

One of the nation's largest electric utilities says it will reach net zero carbon emissions by the year 2040. 

It's the most ambitious goal yet for a U.S. electricity company. Five electric utilities, including DTE Energy, have committed to reaching net zero by 2050.

Net zero carbon emissions means a combination of eliminating and offsetting carbon dioxide emissions to achieve zero carbon emissions attributable to the company.

Seymore Johnson AFB

Consumers Energy will pay $545,000 to settle a dig notice violation case filed with the Michigan Public Service Commission.

Michigan State Capitol Building
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Today on Stateside, there are just a few weeks left in the 2019 legislative session, but Governor Gretchen Whitmer and GOP lawmakers have yet to reach a deal on the state budget. Plus, a group of West Michigan musicians come together on a compilation album to raise money for Grand Rapids singer-songwriter Ralston Bowles, whose wife is battling cancer.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

An effort is underway to improve property values in some Flint neighborhoods.

Driving through Flint’s north side, it’s not uncommon to see nicely kept single family homes sitting next door to vacant and blighted homes.

A new program hopes to rehab those blighted homes, and in turn bring in first time homebuyers and improve property values around the entire neighborhood.

DTE Energy

DTE Energy says it is committing to achieve net carbon neutrality by the year 2050.

The term, "net carbon neutrality," means reducing carbon emissions, along with offsetting emissions by supporting outside carbon reduction efforts, in order to achieve a 100% reduction in CO2 emissions attributable to the utility.

Trevor Lauer, president and chief operating officer for DTE Electric, says the path to 100% carbon neutrality will require utilization of technologies that are not currently fully developed.

three books with an apple on top, a few crayons, and some ABC blocks sit on top of a wood desk
Unsplash

 


Today on Stateside, how "energy resilient" is Michigan? We talk to the chair of the Michigan Public Service Commission about a newly-released assessment of the state's energy infrastructure. Plus, the rise and fall of a 19th century Chrsitian utopian society in Michigan's Thumb region. 

An e-cigarette sits on a table with smoke around it
Pixabay

Today on Stateside, Governor Whitmer issued emergency rules making Michigan the first state to ban flavored e-cigarettes, which are popular among teenagers. Plus, the story of a Bay City teacher who took a trip over Niagra Falls. 

led light bulbs on a light blue background
voloshin311 / Adobe Stock

Consumers Energy CEO Patti Poppe pulled no punches at a kickoff event for the utility's campaign to encourage customers to use less energy in the war against climate change.

"I cannot stress firmly enough that we are in a crisis and must take action right now," she said.  "We can't do this ourselves, we need your help."

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."

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

It appears few Michiganders who spent the weekend without electricity will be able to apply for a credit on their next utility bill.

More than 600,000 DTE and Consumers Energy customers spent part of the past few days in the dark after strong storms knocked out their power. Both utilities expect to restore electricity to most, if not all, of their affected customers by late Tuesday or Wednesday.

Consumers Energy / via Michigan Public Service Commission

The Michigan Public Service Commission is demanding Consumers Energy take more action to prevent a possible repeat of a fire last January.

That fire broke out at the utility’s Ray Township compressor station on Jan. 31, during frigid temperatures at the height of the polar vortex.

Shimekia Nichols of Soulardarity at press conference criticizing DTE Energy's first 15-year strategic plan, known as an Integrated Resource Plan (IRP).
Tracy Samilton / Michi

A large and mostly dissatisfied crowd attended a Michigan Public Service Commission public meeting in Detroit on Thursday to comment on DTE's first Integrated Resource Plan (IRP).

The plan sets out DTE's short-term and long-term plan to ensure reliability and reduce carbon emissions, which are causing global warming.

solar panels on roof of home
pixabay

In May, the Michigan Public Service Commission approved a new, so-called "inflow/outflow" model for  rooftop solar rates, replacing the former "net metering" scheme.

Solar installation companies say the new rates are slowing demand for rooftop solar already.

Under net metering, people would get a credit for excess energy they put onto the grid, equal to the rate they were being charged for using their utility's electricity.

windmill in field
cwwycoff1 / Flickr Creative Commons HTTP://MICHRAD.IO/1LXRDJM

Xcel Energy has reached a settlement with environmental groups that puts it a step further on its ambitious path to zero carbon emissions by 2050.  

Xcel Energy's Northern Michigan Power division provides electricity to 9,000 customers in Michigan. 

The utility also serves customers in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Colorado, Texas and New Mexico.

Mark Stoering, President of Xcel Energy - Michigan and Wisconsin, says the utility proposes to fast-track the retirement of Xcel's remaining coal-burning power plants by 2030. 

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

The City of Grand Rapids will run an Emergency Operations Center through the weekend to manage the response to this week’s storms.

Areas in and around Grand Rapids took the brunt of the power outages caused by ice storms that swept through the area on Wednesday and Thursday.

Grand Rapids fire chief John Lehman says at the peak of the outages, 56,000 residents in Grand Rapids were without power – that’s about a quarter of the city’s entire population.

Those numbers included retirement homes in the city.

Michael Mazengarb / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Circuit West, an experimental green energy development in Grand Rapids, now has an energy storage component.  

Circuit West is described by developers as "a 13-block hub of innovative electricity generation, distribution and storage and energy efficient building construction."

The storage is in the form of large cabinet-sized batteries that can store more than an hour's worth of the energy being produced by existing solar panels.

Roger Lin is with NEC Energy Solutions, which is providing the batteries for the pilot project with Consumers Energy.

CEME

Consumers Energy has agreed to stop giving money to non-profit political advocacy groups for two years, under the terms of a rate case settlement agreement with the Michigan Public Service Commission.

That's after the state's largest utility gave more than $43 million between 2014 and 2017 to a controversial dark money PAC to oppose issues and defeat political candidates it did not like.  

Hemlock Semiconductor

 

Governor Snyder has signed a bill that will give one Michigan company a break on its electricity bills from Consumers Energy.

Hemlock Semiconductor near Saginaw makes parts for solar panels.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Tens of thousands of people in northern Lower Michigan are still waiting to get their electricity turned back on.

Severe storms Tuesday night into Wednesday knocked out power to more than 150,000 Consumers Energy and Great Lakes Energy Cooperative customers.

power lines
MaxPixel

A wave of thunderstorms with strong winds caused widespread power outages and scattered damage across western and northern Michigan.

The National Weather Service reports Tuesday night's storms had wind gusts reaching 50 mph and dumped up to 3 inches of rain in the Grand Rapids area.

power lines in trees
Steffan Vilcans / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

Customers who rely on alternative electricity providers are breathing a sigh of relief.  That's after state regulators set a rule that will likely let the providers keep operating at least through 2023, according to the Alliance for Michigan Energy Consumers.

Alternative electric companies, also known as electric choice, can serve up to 10% of DTE Energy and Consumers Energy customers.  The lower rates offered by electric choice companies attract customers with big electric bills like school districts. 

Consumers Energy

Consumers Energy plans to dramatically increase its use of solar energy by the year 2040.

It's a big part of the utility's first long-term energy plan, required by Michigan's new energy law.

CEO Patti Poppe says solar is clean energy, and the cost of providing it is likely to come down by 35% by 2040.

And she says solar is one of the best options for providing electricity at times of peak demand.

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