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Attorney General challenges Consumers Energy rate hike

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Attorney General Dana Nessel is challenging a rate hike request filed by Consumers Energy, the state’s largest gas and electric utility.

The utility filed a natural gas rate hike request with the Michigan Public Service Commission, the state’s utility-regulating agency. Nessel said the rate hike would add up to a total cost to customers of $212 million dollars over a 12-month period.

“I have said it before and it continues to be true, Michigan residents are facing enormous pressure as their heating bills consume more and more of their household income,” Nessel said in statement from her office.

“My filed response explains that Consumers Energy should learn to cut costs in its own budget just as customers have had to cut costs in theirs to accommodate these climbing energy costs.”

Consumers Energy serves 6.7 million customers in 68 Michigan counties. Nessel said her proposal would reduce that cost to ratepayers to about $52 million dollars. She also called on the commission to reject a request for a $2 monthly surcharge on gas bills.

A Consumers Energy spokesperson said the rate hike is necessary to pay for needed upgrades to its natural gas delivery system.

“Consumers Energy is seeking a new rate review because we’re in the midst of a decades-long effort to modernize our natural gas infrastructure and operations to improve safety and reliability for customers and protect the planet,” said Katie Carey, director of media relations. “The dollars invested will update our natural gas delivery system to ensure Michigan has the infrastructure to keep natural gas as an affordable heating source for years to come.”

Consumers has promised to stop burning coal to generate power by 2025.

Hearings before the commission will begin next month with a decision expected in September.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.
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