After receiving stakeholder input, the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) recently ordered three Michigan utilities to file electricity distribution and maintenance plans consistent with the goals of the MPSC's MI Power Grid initiative.
The commission ordered DTE Electric Co., Consumers Energy Co., and Indiana Michigan Power Co. to file second iterations of their distribution investment and maintenance plans by Sept. 30, 2021, with draft plans shared with stakeholders and commission staff by Aug. 1, 2021.
The plans are part of the next steps in the MI Power Grid multiyear stakeholder initiative launched in October 2019 with support from governor Gretchen Whitmer to maximize the benefits of the transition to clean, distributed energy resources (DERs) for Michigan residents and businesses. MI Power Grid's three areas of emphasis are on customer engagement, integrating emerging technologies, and optimizing grid investments and performance.
"This order fits with the commission's focus on maintaining reliable electric service for Michigan while also supporting a grid that accommodates new capabilities in the transition to clean, distributed energy sources," said MPSC Chair Dan Scripps. "That includes supporting efforts to encourage residential and commercial customers to be more engaged in how they use energy."
The recent order focuses on transparent and long-term electric distribution planning for the three utilities, with emphasis on the goals of MI Power Grid as well as the commission's standing objectives for distribution planning: safety, reliability and resiliency, cost-effectiveness and affordability, and accessibility.
In two other MI Power Grid developments, the commission also ordered:
- Commission staff to begin a Competitive Procurement Workgroup with participation of rate-regulated utilities and other stakeholders to develop recommendations for a competitive bidding framework that ensures strong, technology-neutral market response and value for ratepayers, with transparency, non-discriminatory access, certainty, and fairness in bidding. The guidelines also should help streamline regulatory approval processes. A staff straw proposal is due by Oct. 1, 2021, to identify issues to address through the stakeholder workgroup process.
- Staff to form a collaborative workgroup with utility company representatives and other stakeholders to review and discuss ways to improve and better align the integrated resource planning (IRP) and distribution and transmission planning in Michigan, with a report filed in this docket by May 27, 2021. In addition, the commission ordered staff to coordinate with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy on public health and environmental justice considerations in future IRP cases.
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