June 25, 2018 Read More →

Little support for coal bailout in Michigan

The Detroit News:

Michigan energy suppliers say proposed actions by the Trump administration to declare an energy state of emergency are unnecessary and could lead to higher electric bills for customers.

Members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which regulates electricity sales and transmission, testified before Congress last week that there is no energy emergency to justify the federal action. Michigan utility companies agreed, saying coal is expensive and that they can provide reliable electricity from cheaper and greener sources such as natural gas, solar and wind.

“If they’re going to buy more expensive power, that comes out of ratepayers’ pockets,” said Jim MacInnes, chair of Michigan’s Utility Consumer Participation Board, a five-member group appointed by the governor to provide grants to organizations representing the interests of residential energy utility customers. “System operators are telling us we have more than adequate capacity. Michigan already has the highest electricity rates in the Midwest. Why would we want to make them higher?”

“We don’t believe there is an energy crisis or state of emergency, but we do believe there is an opportunity of a generation to have a cleaner and leaner energy supply,” said Patti Poppe, president and CEO of Consumers and its parent, CMS Energy. “What we are doing is beyond federal regulations or mandates. We’re doing this because we can generate electricity with this new balanced and clean energy portfolio in an affordable way that still provides for energy stability, reliability and accessibility.”

More demand for coal power would not save many of Michigan’s coal plants, most of which will have been in operation for 60 years or longer by the time they retire. Some parts to repair and update Lansing Board of Water and Light’s two power stations from the ’50s and ’70s are not even available anymore, said Amy Adamy, the board’s spokeswoman.

“These plants are old. They’re reaching the end of their life,” said [Irene] Dimitry, [DTE’s vice president of business planning and development.] “We’re in the transition stage already. We’re investing in them just to make sure they are reliable and safe through the transition period. It’s like a car. You replace parts until there’s so many big parts that need repairs that you just need to buy a new car.”

More: Trump’s call for coal energy could cost Michigan consumers

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