News Story

Michigan regulator seeks proposals for audit of DTE, Consumers

First-of-its-kind audit seeks root causes of Michigan’s unreliable energy grid

What are the root factors of Michigan’s poor energy reliability? The Michigan Public Service Commission is looking for answers in a first-of-its-kind audit of the state’s monopoly utilities, DTE Energy and Consumers Energy. This week the commission issued a 65-page request for proposals for the audit.

In 15 years of monopoly power, DTE and Consumers, energy providers to 90% of Michigan, have never been subject to an audit.

The commission announced the audit last October but issued the request for proposals months later, on March 13. Proposals are due April 25, and work on the contract will begin on Sept. 1.

“This is the first time this has been done in Michigan,” said Katherine Peretick, one of the state’s three public commissioners, in her testimony Wednesday before the House Energy Committee.

Matt Helms, spokesman for the Michigan Public Service Commission, said preliminary information from the audit is expected by year’s end.

“Understanding the root causes of system unreliability in Michigan is absolutely essential to getting to solutions,” Peretick testified. “We don’t want to treat the symptoms, we need to treat the cause, and that means ensuring we understand it.”

Peretick said the audit “will consist of a full engineering audit as well as an audit of internal policies and procedures, including a physical audit of existing infrastructure to ensure compliance with applicable engineering standards, and a comparison to the performance and condition of distribution systems of similarly situated utilities.”

Katie Carey, a spokeswoman for Consumers Energy, said that while the commission orders after-action reports after storms, a top-to-bottom audit is indeed a new step.

“We are looking forward to seeing what a third party will determine,” Carey told CapCon.

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.