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MEC wins $86 million refund for Consumers Energy customers

Ratepayers improperly charged for nuke plant decommissioning
Thousands of Michigan electric customers will receive refunds from Consumers Energy, courtesy of the Michigan Environmental Council’s successful legal challenge to the utility.

The utility collected $86 million from a surcharge designed for the decommissioning of the Big Rock nuclear plant near Charlevoix. The money was funneled into its operating expenses inappropriately, MEC argued.

The Michigan Public Service Commission ruled on Feb. 9 in favor of MEC and ordered Consumers Energy to develop a plan to return the money to its customers.

“This ruling affirms that the money belongs to the ratepayers of Michigan and not to the utility company, “said James Clift, MEC policy director.

MEC doggedly pursued the refund through approximately five years of legal arguments and procedural maneuvering before notching the victory for consumers.

The Council is engaged on several other fronts to keep electricity rates reasonable, including:
  • Monitoring implementation of a PSC order requiring Consumers Energy to place $186 million in a trust fund to pay for long-term disposal of nuclear waste. The waste continues to be stored indefinitely on the shores of the Great Lakes.
  • Watchdogging to ensure state utilities don’t gouge consumers for the cost of renewable energy. MEC’s work already has helped reduce the proposed cost of Consumer Energy’s renewable energy by more than $70 million.
  • Analyzing less expensive and less polluting alternatives to proposed new coal-fired power plants. Those plants will send billions of Michiganders’ dollars outside the state to buy imported coal.
“In this time of increasing home foreclosures and rising energy costs, we need to do everything we can to keep electricity rates in check,” said Chris Kolb, Michigan Environmental Council president. “We are pleased to have helped return this money to residents, and applaud the Public Service Commission for protecting the public.”
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