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OPINION

Energy legislation fuels fairness, reliability

DetroitNews

Re: Kathy Hoekstra’s May 31 column “Michiganians need electricity choice,” and Sen. Mike Shirkey’s Aug. 19 column “Don’t rush into bad energy policy”: These open with the false premise that Michigan Senate Bill 437 impacts the “right” of customers to choose their electric supplier. They act as if homeowners are losing some “right,” when in reality, alternative energy suppliers leave our residents out of the picture.

SB 437 protects the right to choose an alternate supplier. However, it does ask all suppliers to contribute to Michigan’s long-term energy reliability. Without this bill, out-of-state alternative suppliers can continue to come into Michigan, produce nothing, buy discounted excess electricity, cherry-pick the largest, most profitable customers — and take their profit back to their home states.

When Michigan deregulated electricity between the years of 2000-08, three important facts came to light:

■We still had a 60-year-old fleet of power plants,

■plants would begin to shut down due to federal regulations, and

■no electric supplier would invest the billions of dollars needed to build baseload power plants in a deregulated market.

So we changed the law. Michigan returned to the certainty of a mostly regulated system. The new law included a hybrid system that allows 10 percent of Michigan’s electric market to contract energy from alternative energy suppliers. Sixteen years later, not one residential customer has a contract with a non-utility supplier.

In fact, we’ve paid over $1.8 billion in higher rates since 2008 to subsidize a so-called competitive program. It’s reasonable for homeowners to ask out-of-state suppliers to pony up their fair share.

If you’re going to provide electric service in Michigan, prove to us that you’re planning for the needs of your customers to ensure reliability. If you fail, the entire electric grid and every electric consumer in the state is more vulnerable. Setting minimum standards to safeguard our economic prosperity is reasonable, responsible, and fair.

As the chair of the Senate Economic Development Committee and member of the Energy Committee, I can’t stress enough how important reliable, affordable, and clean energy is to Michigan’s economic future.

I recently asked the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC): In layman’s terms, what will Michigan’s energy future look like if we do nothing? The startling response from the Chair of the MPSC: “Dark.”

SB 437 goes a long way toward securing a bright energy future for Michigan.

State Sen. Ken Horn

Michigan’s 32nd District