Consumers Energy proposes price hike to strengthen grid and support clean energy projects
Consumers Energy is proposing a nearly $272 million investment to modernize its power grid and support clean energy projects. If approved, average households could see a monthly bill increase of about $7.50.
About half of the investment would go toward their Electric Distribution Infrastructure Plan. Part of the nearly $5.5 billion project is aimed at modernizing Consumers' power grid to reduce outages.
Consumers' Director of External Relations Katie Carey said improving the strength of the grid is one of the utility's main priorities as climate change brings more severe weather events.
“We want fewer power outages for our customers and if there are power outages we want the duration to be much shorter and less frequent for our customers,” she said.
She added the rest of the money would go toward clean energy investments and other projects, like making it easier for households to switch to electric vehicles.
“EVs are becoming very popular and we’re seeing a lot of connections with automakers also pushing for more electric vehicles on the road so we have a goal at Consumers Energy to be able to power 1 million electric vehicles on our system,” Carey said.
Other investments include expanding economic development rates to help attract businesses, or allow them to expand. The utility is also looking to double the size of its distributed generation program for solar energy. And, the investment will support the purchase of the Covert Generation Station, a natural gas-fired power plant in Van Buren County.
Carey said the utility recognizes the concern of inflation and the possible hardship some of their customers might face with the rate hike. The proposal includes $3.5 million in low-income assistance.
“We’re proud that our bills have stayed below inflation historically, and the average residential customer bill has been below the national average since about 2012, however, we know that that's not always the case for some of our customers,” she said.
The Michigan Public Service Commission is considering the proposal and its impact on customers. A final decision is expected in early 2023.