Letter: Deregulation benefits few, costs many

State Rep. Gary Glenn announced last week that he plans to introduce legislation to expand deregulation of Michigan’s electricity market and increase unfair subsidies that benefit a few of Michigan’s electricity customers. Deregulation is a failed policy that most states have wisely resisted.

Glenn’s proposal would expand our state’s current deregulated market, which now costs Michigan’s utility customers $300 million per year in subsidies. His proposal would add $240 million to that annual subsidy, which is essentially a hidden tax. Senior citizens, low-income earners and small businesses customers are among those who would pay more under his plan.

With the recently failed ballot initiative on road repair funding, Michiganians announced through their votes that they clearly do not like hidden taxes to support special interests. Glenn’s proposal bears some striking similarities to the road ballot initiative.

He is proposing to provide a non-market based discount, or subsidy, to a select group of customers, including schools, hospitals and local governments. This hidden tax would be paid for by the majority of families, businesses and other Michigan utility customers. Michigan’s energy policy should be fair to all customers and not pick winners and losers based on the type of business or organization.

In addition, expanded deregulation would make Michigan dependent on the energy leftovers from other states, and importing electricity to Michigan means exporting energy jobs. We favor a Michigan-first energy policy that supports investment in Michigan generating facilities creating Michigan jobs.

Expanding deregulation puts Michigan’s energy future in the hands of out-of-state retail marketers and subjects the state to increased federal regulation.

The Michigan Legislature is considering measures proposed by Rep. Aric Nesbitt and Sen. Mike Nofs that would retain the 10-percent cap on the retail electric market and include provisions to ensure long-term electric reliability and protect all Michigan families and businesses from potential grid disruptions caused by a shortfall in generating capacity.

We believe these proposals offer the best way to ensure reliable, affordable electricity, provide fair treatment for all customers, and allow Michigan to retain control over its energy future.

Steve Kurmas, president and CEO,

DTE Energy