Renewable energy coalition files MPSC complaint against Consumers Energy

By Jay Greene, Crain's Detroit Business.

Several small hydroelectric, biogas and landfill renewable power operators have filed a complaint against Jackson-based Consumers Energy Co. with the Michigan Public Service Commission to compel the utility to sign fairly priced power purchase agreements with them.

The newly formed Independent Power Producers Coalition of Michigan, whose members operate under federal legislation approved during the 1970s energy crisis, wants the MPSC to require Consumers to sign long-term contracts with sufficient rates to keep them in business and the power on for thousands of homeowners and businesses.

The last time Consumers agreed to contract prices with renewable power owners was in 1982, when the MPSC set avoided costs (prices) for the renewable power operators based on the costs of coal-fired plants. It is expected that in the future the MPSC would assess avoided costs of about 7 to 8 cents per kilowatt hour based on combined cycle power plants that use gas and steam.