Power on

The Michigan Court of Appeals has affirmed an order of the Michigan Public Service Commission approving a renewable energy plan that will include a $5.3 billion wind power project.

The plan was submitted by Consumers Energy Co. after the state of Michigan adopted its Clean, Renewable, and Efficient Energy Act in 2008, which requires 10 percent of all energy sales to come from renewable sources by 2015.

The cost of the project, according to the July 12, 2011, opinion in The Association of Businesses Advocating Tariff Equity v. Michigan Public Service Commission, et al., will be recovered in part by charging higher energy prices, and in part by collecting a surcharge of $3 per month for residential customers, $16.58 per month for commercial customers, and $187.50 per month for industrial customers. The charges may be collected over a span of 20 years.

It’s the increased costs that (Association of Businesses Advocating Tariff Equity) ABATE  is concerned about, and it argued that the project is too large and too costly.

The group, made up of major manufacturers and energy consumers, said that there is no reason the entire project must be implemented now. It called the plan “speculative and inflated.” In other words, the project will be over-built. But Consumers argues that in order to ensure enough land acquisition and the best prices for the equipment needed for wind farms and transmission lines, now is the time to build; putting off some of the project could result in higher costs.

The Public Service Commission approved the plan, with modifications to address what it called flaws in the plan. ABATE appealed.

The Court of Appeals concluded that the commission’s “findings are supported by testimony and exhibits … and that (ABATE) has thus failed to demonstrate that the decision to allow Consumers Energy to proceed with its renewable energy plan was unreasonable and unlawful.” The 2008 law not only requires the percentage of the state’s energy to come from renewable sources, but it also allows that energy companies can meet up to half of that obligation by building their own renewable energy facilities. And the companies can seek surcharges to pay for it.

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