Editor’s note: This story has been updated with comments from DTE Electric Co.
Roughly a week after lawmakers passed a $1 billion program to incentivize major advanced automotive projects in Michigan, state energy regulators followed suit today by approving special electricity rates to support such industrial projects.
The Michigan Public Service Commission voted unanimously to approve the economic development rates for Jackson-based Consumers Energy and Detroit-based DTE Electric Co., a subsidiary of DTE Energy. The expedited approval came after the utilities submitted their proposals in early November, and commissioners echoed the utilities’ claims that speedy approval was needed to help lure billions of dollars in potential investments.
“The timing is important given the fast pace of investments,” said Commissioner Katherine Peretick, one of the three MPSC members that have been appointed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
The MPSC approval is another example of the state moving swiftly in recent weeks and months to avoid a repeat of major out-of-state investments that surfaced this fall with Ford Motor Co.’s plan to partner on an $11.4 billion electric vehicle assembly and battery project in Tennessee and Kentucky.
“In combination with the bipartisan (state) legislation …today’s orders for both Consumers Energy and DTE Electric Co. show Michigan is firmly in the game in attracting those investments and jobs,” MPSC Chairperson Dan Scripps said during today’s meeting.
The utilities’ new programs will offer cheaper electricity rates for large-scale manufacturing projects that meet certain size and energy-usage thresholds. The commissioners agreed with the utilities that the special rates would not lead to higher costs for all other ratepayers, as is required by state law.
“The Michigan Public Service Commission’s approval of DTE’s D13 XL high load factor rate today allows us to attract new business to the state,” DTE Electric Co. President and COO Trevor Lauer said in a statement. “The new rate will address the anticipated needs for more electrification of large business operations, including EV and EV battery manufacturing as well as data center facilities. This new rate will not add new cost to existing residential or industrial rates. ”
Consumers Energy filed an amended plan last week to more closely align with DTE’s plan. In its initial Nov. 4 filing, Consumers disclosed that it is aware of “10 active electric vehicle supply chain and other high-tech projects” considering Michigan that represent nearly $65 billion in investment and 21,000 new jobs, as MiBiz first reported.
Groups including the Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association and the Association of Businesses Advocating Tariff Equity (ABATE) urged regulators to reject the utilities’ request for expedited approval, saying more time was needed to study the rates’ potential effect on all other customers.
Peretick said today that the new large and high-profile loads will “provide the state an opportunity to better utilize our electric system for the benefit of all customers.”
Scripps added: “I share the enthusiasm and excitement about the role we can play in helping to build Michigan’s future.”