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E-M:/ RESTRUCTURING BILLS BAD FOR CONSUMERS, LOW-INCOME CUSTOMERS, THE ENVIRONMENT



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Enviro-Mich message from Julie C Metty <mucc@mucc.org>
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FOR IMEDIATE RELEASE 
FRIDAY, NOV. 20, 1998		

CONTACTS:
Diane Royal, Residential Ratepayer Consortium, 517-321-7722
Sharon Parks, Michigan League for Human Services, 517-487-5436
Julie Metty, Michigan United Conservation Clubs, 517-371-1041
Dave Dempsey, Michigan Environmental Council, 517-487-9539
David Wright, Michigan Environmental Council, 734-665-3123

UTILITY RESTRUCTURING BILLS ENDANGER THE PUBLIC INTEREST
S.B. 1340, 1342: BAD FOR CONSUMERS, LOW-INCOME CUSTOMERS, THE
ENVIRONMENT

Lansing, MI - New legislation that would "restructure" Michigan's
electric utility industry would provide windfall profits for Consumers
Energy and Detroit Edison, result in rate increases for residential
customers, put low-income persons at risk of losing electric service,
and increase pollution of Michigan's environment, according to an
analysis released today by consumer, low-income and environmental
advocates.

The legislation, offered as substitute versions of S.B. 1340 and 1342,
is the subject of a meeting of the State Senate Technology and Energy
Committee Monday, November 23, at 2 p.m.  Committee Chair Sen. Mat
Dunaskiss has said he wants a vote on the bills Monday and is working
with Gov. Engler to win final approval by the Legislature before the end
of 1998.

Among flaws pointed out by the advocates:

       The legislation abolishes the 100-year-old "duty to serve" that
entitles all citizens to electric service.

"It is absolutely critical that any deregulation legislation enacted in
Michigan include a guarantee that residential customers can maintain
electric service, and at affordable rates even after the year 2003,"
said Ann Marston, President/CEO of the Michigan League for Human
Services. "Residential customers must be able to keep the heat and
lights on."

"The Residential Ratepayer Consortium is particularly concerned with the
fact this bill eliminates any protection for continued service by an
electric utility to residential ratepayers after the beginning of the
year 2003 by removing the utility's obligation to serve," said Diane
Royal, attorney for the Consortium.

	 The legislation completely ignores the environmental impacts of
electricity generation, which could worsen without legislative
safeguards.

Coal-burning power plants, which supply the bulk of Michigan's
electricity today, emitted 67.5 million tons of carbon dioxide, 336,000
tons of sulfur dioxide, 171,599 tons of nitrogen oxides, and 4,240
pounds of mercury in 1996.  By failing to address environmental issues,
the legislation could promote the increased sale in Michigan of
electricity from dirty coal plants in neighboring states while providing
incentives for Michigan utilities to increase emissions from their
facilities and to restart old plants.

"The Michigan Legislature has ignored the benefits of energy
conservation and instead have proposed a program that will benefit only
Detroit Edison and Consumers Energy, while the citizens of Michigan and
the environment suffer," said Sam Washington, Michigan United
Conservation Clubs executive director.  "Mechanisms to fund energy
efficiency and incorporate renewable resources must be included in any
plan to deregulate Michigan's electric utility industry."

"Electric restructuring can't lead to a cleaner environment if it
doesn't provide customers with the information they need to choose more
efficient, less polluting power sources," said Lana Pollack, Michigan
Environmental Council President.  "The legislation before the Senate
turns the lights out on the public's right to know."
	
	 The legislation not only fails to lower rates, but guarantees
increases.

Although one section of the bill purports to lock current rates in place
through 2002 for customers who stick with current electric providers,
other sections authorize the Public Service Commission to permit
utilities to pass along fuel cost increases and even to pay off
utilities if they fail to gain an adequate rate of return.

Royal pointed out that under the bill, the already inflated "frozen"
rates can be raised even higher following the completion of 1998 power
supply reconciliation proceedings.  "Further, all ratepayers are
deprived of a true opportunity to challenge the filings in the annual
stranded cost true-up process," she said.  "This bill specifically
exempts the Public Service Commission's investigation of a utility's
filings from the contested case provisions of the Administrative
Procedures Act of 1969."

-END-
-- 
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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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