Chatfield: Energy Legislation Wrong for Northern Michigan

The following blog post comes from a Facebook post by Representative Lee Chatfield on December 11, 2016.

Over the past several weeks, many of you have reached out to my office and have inquired of my position regarding the current energy legislation that’s making its way through the House of Representatives. I do not support the bills (SB 437 & 438) in their current form, because I do not believe they are the best solution for Michigan’s taxpayers, families or schools. Below are five reasons why I believe that SB’s 437 & 438 are not the solution we need:

Rep._Chatfield_square.png1. The current legislation is largely in response to excessive Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations being pushed down on the states, and the bills are tailored to an Obama administration’s bureaucracy. I am in favor of providing President-elect Trump and his new administration some time to deregulate the EPA before we create wide-sweeping reform. It makes no sense to act now when the federal regulations are bound to change in a few short months.

2. While advocates of these bills argue that the current 10% choice for consumers is left intact, the capacity charges placed on Alternative Energy Suppliers (AESs) essentially eliminate retail choice statewide. Without any energy competition in our state, our energy costs will continue to rise – despite Michigan already having higher energy cost averages in the Midwest. Prior to 2008 when Michigan had 100% choice, our state enjoyed some of the lowest rates nationwide. It's no surprise that our current monopoly has caused higher energy costs for ratepayers.

3. I cannot support any energy legislation that doesn't fully address the energy crisis for the Upper Peninsula. Though Michigan has two Peninsulas, we are in need of a one state solution; and creating a sustainable transmission link that connects them together can provide that. While the entire state may not see the pressing need for this, my constituents do and I will be fighting for them.

4. The grid charge for customers who wish to utilize net metering discourages innovative methods of creating energy. Much like point #2, this again disincentives any competition for the large utilities. The less competition you have, the higher the prices will be. That is how the free market works.

5. Increasing the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) will lead to higher rates for Michigan’s consumers by mandating the use of renewable energy sources that may not be as cost effective as other non-renewable energy sources. Rather than increasing the RPS, let’s continue to have a strong base-load energy that allows for certainty in the energy marketplace at lower costs.

Rather than looking out for what’s best for Michigan’s largest utilities, let’s look out for Michigan’s taxpayers. Is it true that Michigan is facing an energy crisis? Yes. But let’s cooperate with the new Trump administration and work within the new and deregulated EPA, rather than passing an over-regulative framework that complies with Obama’s policy agenda.

It’s time we help Michigan’s hardworking families, and this plan falls short.

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