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E-M:/ Utility Deregulation: Not For Lame Ducks

Enviro-Mich message from Julie C Metty <mucc@mucc.org>

November 16, 1998
Julie Metty, MUCC, 517/371-1041
Dave Dempsey, MEC, 517/487-9539
LANSING, MI - Consumer and environmental advocates warned today that any
rush toward approving the restructuring of Michigan's electric industry
yet this year could be costly to ratepayers and the environment, and
against the true public interest.
Such advocacy groups include the Michigan Consumer Federation, the
Michigan United Conservation Clubs, the Michigan League for Human
Services, the Michigan Environmental Council, the Residential Ratepayer
Consortium, PIRGIM, The Ecology Center of Ann Arbor, the American Lung
Association of Michigan, and the National Wildlife Federation, among
"Electric industry restructuring, if it is to make any sense at all,
should bring with it not only competition and new choices but lower
prices, protection for the environment, guaranteed reliability of
service, and a full range of consumer protections," said David Shaltz,
counsel for the Residential Ratepayer Consortium.
All the organizations, representing residential and environmentally
conscious electricity customers, stated that the restructuring of
Michigan's utilities is a far too important, complex, and multi-faceted
issue to be hastened through the Michigan Legislatures' "lame duck"
session.  With only a few short weeks of session remaining, the most
critical issues of restructuring have not surfaced.  There has been no
mention of protecting the environment, public health, residential
customers, or low-income customers, among others.
"Any legislation involving billions of dollars, the life, health and
safety of Michigan residents, the pocketbooks of the fixed-income
elderly, and the condition of our environment should not be rushed
through the Legislature without the opportunity for a full and complete
review of its consequences," said Rick Gamber, executive director of the
Michigan Consumer Federation.
These advocacy groups complain that both the legislation they have seen,
sponsored by Representative Barbara Dobb, as well as legislation being
crafted behind closed doors by Senator Mat Dunaskiss and Governor John
Engler, make no mention of environmental or residential customer
"If the Legislature's restructuring plans are implemented, Michigan will
surely have designed the worst deregulation plan in the country," said
Sam Washington, executive director of the Michigan United Conservation
Clubs.  "I am embarrassed and angered that, almost without exception,
every other state working toward electric utility restructuring has
recognized the need to incorporate environmental protections into their
restructuring plans, except Michigan."  
Environmental organizations believe that competition in electricity
markets will create additional markets for old, dirty coal plants, which
are the largest single source of harmful air pollution in the country
and responsible for about 40 percent of human-caused mercury emissions
in Michigan.  Of the 19 states that have passed or nearly passed
restructuring legislation, 16 have included environmental protection
"The single most important environmental policy decision of the decade
could very well be utility restructuring," said Lana Pollack, president
of the Michigan Environmental Council.  "We could vault to the top of
the states trying to protect the environment by reducing coal burning,
or tumble to the bottom and become a dirty-coal state.  A decision of
this importance shouldn't be made at the last minute of a legislative
session by lame duck legislators."


Julie Metty, Resource Policy Specialist	
Michigan United Conservation Clubs
PO Box 30235, Lansing, MI 48909
517/371-1041(voice)  517/371-1505(fax)  muccpolicy@mucc.org

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