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Nessel joins advocacy groups seeking more relief for low-income Consumers Energy customers

Consumers Energy helping families this winter
Posted at 7:17 PM, Jan 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-27 19:17:34-05

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and several ratepayer advocacy groups are asking the Michigan Public Service Commission to reconsider its denial of support for expanding a Consumers Energy program that provides credits to low-income customers.

Nessel and the Michigan Environmental Council, Natural Resources Defense Council and Sierra Club filed a motion Jan. 15 for a rehearing before the Commission regarding the utility company’s recent rate case, according to a news release Wednesday.

The Commission approved in December a $90.2 million rate increase for electric customers of Consumers Energy.

In addition to opposing the company’s originally proposed $244 million rate increase, the groups also raised concerned about the unaffordability of Consumers Energy’s electric bills for its lowest-income customers.

In 2020, Consumers Energy’s bills were on average the highest at $106 per month.

During the rate case, Nessel and advocacy groups argued for both short-term and longer-term programs and policies to provide more targeted, impactful and sustainable assistance for low-income customers.

That includes an expansion of the company’s low-income assistance credit program.

In October 2020, the administrative law judge who presided over the case recommended the Commission approve a $12.5 million increase for low-income payment assistance, which would allow more customers to receive a $30-per-month credit.

The Commission did not approve that proposal, instead approving a pre-pandemic $6.1 million proposal for bill assistance.

The joint petition for rehearing asks the Commission to reconsider its decision to deny the expansion of the $30-per-month credits.

“There is valid concern regarding bill affordability, particularly now due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and low-income ratepayers who are already struggling to keep food on the table should not be forced to choose between feeding their families and paying their utility bills,” Nessel said. “I hope the relief requested in this joint petition brings additional resources for the people who need it, and I am grateful for the support of the MEC, NRDC and Sierra Club in this fight for the betterment of all ratepayers.”