WASHINGTON & LANSING, Mich.--()--The National Energy Marketers Association (NEM) concluded its Fall Leadership Roundtable in Lansing this week with a positive outlook on the future expansion of electric choice opportunities for Michigan consumers and continued growth of the successful gas choice program in the State. NEM members were joined by a diverse group of stakeholders including Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley, Michigan Public Service Commission (MIPSC) Chairman John D. Quackenbush, Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PAPUC) Commissioner James Cawley, MI Senators Arlan Meekhof, Howard Walker, and Coleman Young II, as well as MI Representatives Mike Shirkey, Aric Nesbitt, Ken Horn, MIPSC Staff, utility representatives and energy consumers.
Both Senator Meekhof and Congressman Shirkey recognized the importance of revisiting the 2008 law that capped electric choice participation at 10% and plan to reintroduce bills in the next session that would expand choice. Chris Hendrix of Wal-Mart highlighted one example of the harm to consumers imposed by the shopping cap – in comparing two Wal-Mart stores, one of which is able to shop and the other is not, located within miles of each other in Michigan that has resulted in the non-shopping store overpaying nearly $130,000 on its utility commodity bill.
In reflecting on Pennsylvania’s experience with electric choice, PAPUC Commissioner Cawley noted that the key to making electric choice work is the structural separation of generation assets. This allows utilities to focus on improving their delivery infrastructure to promote reliable, efficient and secure service. It also shifts the risk of inefficient generation away from captive utility ratepayers to investors.
MIPSC Chairman Quackenbush discussed the long history of the availability and success of gas choice programs for Michigan consumers. He noted that as of September 2012 there were over 540,000 choice customers shopping and buying natural gas from a competitive supplier, representing annualized gas sales of about 90.286 billion cubic feet. Stakeholders discussed potential measures to further increase consumer participation in gas choice programs.
NEM is a national, non-profit trade association representing wholesale and retail marketers of natural gas, electricity, as well as energy and financial related products, services, information and advanced technologies throughout the United States, Canada and the European Union. You may contact NEM's Washington, DC headquarters at (202) 333-3288 or its Web site at www.energymarketers.com.