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Consumers Energy no longer releasing customers

By Rick Pluta, Michigan Public Radio Network

LANSING, MI – One of the state's largest electric utilities is no longer releasing customers to buy power from its competitors. State law allows the major utilities to hang onto their remaining customers once 10 percent have moved to an alternative supplier.

Jackson-based Consumers Energy notified its customers and state regulators last week that it's reached its cap. It won't be releasing any more customers, which are typically large commercial operations and school districts. Judy Palnau is with the Michigan Public Service Commission:

"Consumers Energy did notify the Michigan Public Service Commission that they had released the 10% cap for the electric customer choice program, so they're still taking enrollments for people who are interested, but they can't be activated until space is available," she says. "But for now we're at the 10% cap that the law put in place."

Palnau says no other utilities have notified the state that they are at or near the cap.

The utilities say the 10% cap is necessary to ensure financing for the big power plants they need to build to meet Michigan's future energy needs. But critics of the law say it's responsible for Michigan's electric rates being higher than surrounding states.

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