Letter: Residents want affordable electricity

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A Consumers Energy vice president wrote recently in The Detroit News that “when people talk about the energy that powers their lives, they usually say they want it to be safe and affordable” (Re: David Mengebier’s April 1 guest column, “Michigan shouldn’t deregulate electric market”).

Unfortunately, Michigan residents haven’t had affordable electricity since 2008, when lawmakers in Lansing granted Consumers Energy and DTE a 90 percent electric monopoly, sending electric rates through the roof.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, Michigan customers — our schools, our employers, and our families — have paid $10.5 billion in above-market electric costs since the state capped electric competition in favor of Big Energy monopolies. That’s hardly affordable.

Economists who have studied Michigan’s monopoly electric system also concluded that the cap on competition is a massive job killer. Simply giving customers choices, and forcing electric providers like Consumers and DTE to compete for their business, would create 21,000 new jobs every single year.

That’s precisely why Michigan families, job providers, and public schools deserve electric choices that have dramatically driven down prices in our neighboring states.

Mengebier also wrote that giving Michiganians choices on whom they purchase their electricity from would shift control from Michigan policymakers and regulators, but he bizarrely threatened that it would send control to Washington, D.C.

The reality is that electric choice would shift control away from Michigan’s monopoly utilities and fat-cat shareholders on Wall Street and send it to the ratepayers on Main Street.

When big energy bosses write that “electricity costs more in states” where electric companies are forced to compete for ratepayers business, they are just not being honest. Look at our neighbors in Illinois, where customers enjoy electric choice and where electric rates have plummeted well below the national average and far below Michigan’s rates.

Michigan’s public schools, job providers and families deserve the same kind of competition — competition that lowers rates and saves customers billions. They also deserve the truth — not scare tactics — from big energy companies and their armies of lobbyists.

Wayne Kuipers, executive director,

Energy Choice Now

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