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Letter: Don’t choke homegrown clean energy

The Detroit News

Every year more Michigan homeowners and businesses are tapping into the power of the sun or wind to reduce their electricity bills. Using homegrown clean energy to offset electricity costs is a growing trend, according to a recent report by the Michigan Public Service Commission. This is great news for our economy and consumers, but a pending proposal by DTE Energy would stop this growing industry in its tracks.

The number of Michiganians who produced their own clean energy from solar or wind increased nearly 28 percent in 2017, according to the MPSC. Now more than 3,200 residents and businesses use homegrown clean energy to offset their electricity costs.

Residents who invest in solar, which makes up the vast majority of renewable energy installations, currently get a fair rate for the excess electricity they generate and sell back to the grid. Today, rooftop solar pays for itself in well under the half-life of the system, leaving many years of zero emission electricity generation for homeowners and businesses.

However, DTE is proposing to tack on an additional monthly fixed charge for those who generate their own clean energy while slashing the buy-back rate for electricity sold back to the grid. This additional monthly fixed charge would be nearly double what non-solar customers pay each month. The buy-back rate would be cut by up to 75 percent, slamming the brakes on homegrown energy in Michigan and making it unaffordable for customers looking to produce emission-free energy for themselves and their neighbors.

Rivet writes: " The energy buy-back rate would be cut by up to 75 percent, slamming the brakes on homegrown energy in Michigan."

A bipartisan energy law overhaul approved in 2016 ordered the MPSC to determine a “fair and equitable” rate for homegrown clean energy. DTE’s proposal is neither fair nor equitable, and would have job-crushing impacts on Michigan’s residential solar industry.

Instead of effectively shutting down this growing and highly successful program, DTE Energy and the MPSC should follow the 2016 energy legislation and establish a truly equitable rate for energy generated through rooftop solar.

Michigan has the highest electricity rates in the Midwest. Michigan residents and businesses seeking relief on their energy costs by generating clean energy shouldn’t be punished for doing so. We should be encouraging Michiganians to be more energy independent, which helps take stress off the electric grid during peak times of energy usage.

The MPSC report highlights what is at stake with DTE’s proposed changes. Our state’s rooftop solar industry is on track for exponential growth, supporting jobs in manufacturing, installation and more. We urge the MPSC to reject DTE’s proposal and work with the utility company to come up with a fair rate structure for Michigan residents and businesses that use homegrown clean energy.

Ed Rivet, executive director 

Michigan Conservative Energy Forum.