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E-M:/ Rep. Kolb Asks Michigan Electric Service Providers to "Do the Right Thing"


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                Contact:  Rep. Chris Kolb

Thursday, March 31, 2005                                           Phone:  (517) 373-2577


Representative Chris Kolb Asks Michigan Electric Service Providers to "Do the Right Thing" 


LANSING – State Representative Chris Kolb (D – Ann Arbor) urged the electric service providers in Michigan to “do the right thing” after the Michigan Public Service Commission’s (MPSC) order authorizing net metering in Michigan.  On Tuesday, March 29, 2005, the MPSC approved a net metering consensus agreement in Case #U-14346.  The MPSC has put forth a voluntary framework and the electric service providers can choose to participate or not.


Net metering allows a utility customer who generates all or a portion of their electricity to put any excess power back on the grid and use its value as a credit against their total monthly utility bill.  Net metering programs are in place in 37 states already and are meant to encourage the use of renewable energy and diversify the power grid among other important objectives.


“Clean renewable energy and distributed generation are the future,” said Kolb.  “Net metering is an important step to reach that future and we need to do everything we can to make sure the program is a success.  This could be a wonderful opportunity for Michigan residents if the utility companies get behind it.  A vigorous net metering program has the potential to reduce mercury contamination, air pollution, and improve human health and productivity throughout the state.  By encouraging clean renewable energy technologies, Michigan can move to the front of the pack instead of continuing to trail behind other states,” explained Kolb.


The MPSC set up a net metering framework with very few constraints or mandates.  Electric service providers are free to set application fees and any administrative or accounting costs.  They are free to determine if complex and costly second meters are needed and who pays for them.  The providers also set the rates they will pay customers for the excess power they generate.  Finally, they have the ability to define how large net metering systems can be and what renewable technologies are eligible.


“I challenge our electric service providers to make Michigan’s net metering program the best in the nation,” said Kolb.  “By signing on to supporting net metering, I am convinced these providers should compete against each other for the greatest number of subscribers; to see who can be the 'greenest,' environmentally friendly, and forward thinking of the electric providers.  To this end, I call on the service providers to waive application fees, allow customers to use their current meter, and not levy costly transmission and delivery charges on small customers.  I expect the providers to advertise and promote their net metering programs and make signing up easy and worthwhile for potential customers,” proclaimed Kolb.


“A good mix of getting out the word and offering incentives will ensure our net metering programs are a success and will go a long way in safeguarding public health and the environment,” concluded Kolb.  “The MPSC and Chairman Peter Lark have given these providers all the tools and encouragement they need to make Michigan’s net metering program the most popular and well used program in the country.  That is a win for everyone and should be applauded.”


The MPSC has given electric service providers 30 days to file their net metering plans with the Commission.  Representative Chris Kolb encourages careful review of these plans to help judge which Michigan service providers have the most generous plans for Michigan customers.  Representative Kolb also recommends that we be diligent in following these programs, and look for yearly filings to see how many net metering customers each service provider has.  He is confident that these numbers will be high and that Michigan’s net metering program will be the envy of the region.