vchal/Getty Images
Featured Image (2)

Report Finds COVID-19 Leads to Consumption Decline in Michigan's Electric Choice Program

Feb. 5, 2021
Michigan Commission report shows electricity consumption by customers enrolled in electric choice program declined by 58 MW in 2020.

Electricity consumption by customers enrolled in Michigan's electric choice program declined by 58 MW in 2020, reflecting decreased electricity use by commercial and industrial customers amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Michigan Public Service Commission's (MPSC's) annual Status of Electric Competition report.

The report shows choice customers had about 1958 MW of electric demand, down from 2016 MW in 2019, while the number of customers participating in the program also declined to 5706 from 5817 during the same period. Nearly all electric choice participants are commercial and industrial customers such as large manufacturers, retailers, health care facilities, restaurants, and schools. Given the decline in demand, utilities may adjust future participation levels based on availability.

Michigan's utility service market was opened to competition through the Customer Choice and Electricity Reliability Act of 2000. The act permits a limited number of customers to buy electricity from either their local electric utility or an alternative electric supplier. The amount of electric load that could be designated through the choice program was limited to 10% of an electric utility's average weather-adjusted retail sales for the preceding calendar year, under Public Act 286 of 2008.

There were 24 licensed alternative electric suppliers in Michigan, with eight actively serving customers as of December 2020. About 6405 customers remained in the queue of those interested in participating in the program if space becomes available under the 10% cap.

Electric choice programs for Consumers Energy Co., DTE Electric Co., Upper Peninsula Power Co., Upper Michigan Energy Resources Corp., Cloverland Electric Cooperative, and Indiana Michigan Power Co. remained at or near their 10% cap for 2020.

The report noted the significant impact the coronavirus pandemic had had on the energy industry, particularly early on, as many businesses were shut down or reduced operations to help slow the spread of the virus. Calculations in the report were affected by these factors and may not accurately reflect normalized load data.

The MPSC's Customer Choice webpage has customer, supplier, and program information about electric choice participation for each utility. Michigan is 1 of 20 jurisdictions that had full or limited restructuring of retail electric markets in 2020.

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of T&D World, create an account today!