News Story

Michigan energy regulator considers penalties for mass power outages

Public asked to weigh in on proposals to punish Michigan utilities for poor performance

When Michigan has power outages, they are more widespread and last longer than the power outages in other states. To combat this, the Michigan Public Service Commission on Wednesday announced the start of a process that could punish energy companies for poor performance. And it’s asking for the public’s help shaping that process.

“The commission remains concerned that Michigan’s utilities continue to perform in the 4th quartile on key reliability metrics, particularly outage duration,” the commission wrote when announcing the proposal. “Furthermore, certain customers experience worse service reliability than system-wide measures would indicate.”

Pictured below is a partial list of the incentives and disincentives being considered by Michigan’s energy regulator:

The idea is to tie utility companies’ financial metrics to their performance, Dan Scripps, chair of the commission, said in a statement.

“We share the public’s frustration with the number and duration of power outages, and particularly those who experience outages over and over again,” Scripps said. “By focusing on the places where improvement is needed most, we’re working to better connect the financial performance of the utilities with the experience of their customers.”

The public comment period for Case No U-21400 ends on 5 p.m. on Sept. 22.

More than half a million homes and businesses in Michigan lost power after last week’s storms. Most of the outages took place in either DTE Energy or Consumers Energy turf in the Lower Peninsula.

This included the governor’s residence, which was without power as recently as Monday.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.