LANSING, Mich., Nov. 8, 2023 — The newly introduced Putting People First Energy legislation, House Bills 5216, 5218, 5220 and 5221, was brought to the House Energy, Communications, and Technology Committee today. State Reps. Helena Scott (D-Detroit), chair of the committee and chair of the bipartisan Energy Reliability, Resilience and Accountability (ERRA) Task Force, Jenn Hill (D-Marquette) and Joey Andrews (D-St. Joseph) held a press conference afterward to further discuss the bill package, which aims to ensure energy in the state is more reliable for the people of Michigan, the grid is stronger across the state and utilities are held accountable. These people-driven bills are informed by the feedback legislators received this summer during the statewide ERRA Listening Tour.
“We took the necessary time this summer to work across the state with the ERRA Listening Tour to give community members and other stakeholders a chance to share their thoughts about where Michigan should head in the future for energy,” said Scott. “The community input and information gathered from the listening tour is the backbone of today’s dependable energy package that puts the people of Michigan first.”
The goal of the ERRA Listening Tour was to hear from Michiganders who lost power during winter outages and to develop policy recommendations to address their needs. Some of the issues residents faced during the power outages included medications being spoiled by extreme temperatures, loss of internet access and mothers being unable to breastfeed their children due to loss of stored milk. Some people who lost heat for several days had to stay with relatives or in hotels to avoid freezing temperatures.
“Overwhelmingly, in nearly every community — especially in the U.P. — we heard the same things: Michiganders want more transparency in billing practices of energy companies, more affordable and dependable energy, and fewer, shortened outage times. We heard them, and now we are putting in the work to make energy more dependable and affordable, and ensuring utility companies are held accountable,” Hill said.
“Where I’m from in Southwest Michigan, we often bear the brunt of extreme weather that is only becoming more common. We need to ensure we are better prepared for storms that knock out power or cause distress for residents,” Andrews said. “My bill ensures that utilities, regulators and first responders help communities and first responders on the ground have the training necessary to get help where it’s needed quickly. We can’t change the weather, but we can be ready when it gets bad.”