MEC applauds MPSC action to ensure gas, electric service during COVID-19 pandemic
The Michigan Public Service Commission announced Wednesday it would hold Michigan’s rate-regulated and cooperative electric and gas utilities accountable by calling on them to adopt minimum protections for their customers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The action by the Michigan Public Service Commission is a win for thousands of Michiganders whose health and well-being is threatened by the loss of electric or gas service,” said Charlotte Jameson, Michigan Environmental Council’s program director of legislative affairs, drinking water and energy. “We thank the Commission for heeding the input of consumer protection, low-income and energy advocates and implementing this comprehensive approach. We hope that Governor Whitmer uses her authority to bring similar protections to the thousands of Michiganders served by municipal utilities.”
As detailed in a Michigan Environmental Council report, there is a patchwork of utility protections in place throughout Michigan. Thousands of Michiganders are served by utilities that have not adopted any measures to ensure affordable, reliable service for all during the pandemic.
Now, Michigan’s regulated utilities and cooperative utilities must affirm they are doing the following:
- Suspending electricity and gas disconnections for low-income customers and seniors through June 1, 2020 and suspending late fees.
- Making customers exposed to, infected by or quarantined because of COVID-19 eligible for a 30-day disconnection hold.
- Reconnecting services shut off at no cost for low-income customers, seniors and those experiencing financial hardship.
- Extending access to and flexibility of payment plans and assistance programs.
Regulated utilities are also required to report data on the number of customers without electric and gas services and efforts by the utilities to reconnect service to those residences.
The rules do not apply to the 40 municipal utilities in Michigan, which are not regulated by MPSC. While cooperative utilities in Michigan are required to affirm they have the needed protections in place, they are not required to comply with the data reporting provisions of the order.