News Story

Michigan Public Service Commission: Power grid unreliable, distribution plans insufficient

Commission warns that Michigan’s grid is not prepared for the rise of EVs

“A core focus of distribution planning is on reliability, and current approaches to distribution planning, the Commission finds, are insufficient to address issues impacting the reliability of utility service to customers—whether current issues or those forecasted for the future. Put bluntly, Michigan’s distribution reliability is inadequate, and current plans for improvements are insufficient.”

So wrote the Michigan Public Service Commission last week, in an 83-page report offering feedback on the September 2021 distribution plans offered by DTE Energy, Consumers Energy, and Indiana & Michigan Power Company.

“It is also clear,” the commission wrote, “that Michigan utility distribution grids are not as well positioned as necessary for the growth of (electric vehicles) and other DERs (distributed energy resources).”

The commission’s message to the utility companies: Go back to the drawing board, and present new plans, plans that account for the system’s unreliability and the insufficiency of current efforts. That word, “insufficient,” appears 10 times in the commission’s report. “Reliability” appears 128 times. “Safe” appears 27 times.

DTE, Consumers and I & M’s new plans are due Sept. 29, 2023, while the plans from Alpena Power Company and Northern States Power Company are due Sept. 30, 2024.

The commission’s report reads:

Of paramount concern are continuing issues dealing with the safety and reliability of the system, including multiple fatalities within the month of August resulting from contact with downed wires as well as frequent and sustained outages stemming from storm events.

The report continues: “These are not new issues nor is progress in addressing them sufficient.”

Jason Hayes, environmental policy director for the Mackinac Center, has sounded the alarm that Michigan’s grid is both expensive and unreliable. Not only for the future, but in the current day.


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.