Legislation would hold electric utilities accountable for reliability


LANSING – State Reps. Abraham Aiyash (D-Hamtramck) and Yousef Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor) have introduced legislation that would spur electrical utilities to invest in reliability. House Bills 6043-6047 would require utilities to compensate customers for the costs of outages and would require regulators to hold evidentiary hearings on electrical distribution plans. The bills have cosponsors from both parties.

“Right now, everyone pays the price of power outages except the utilities,” Rabhi said. “Individual Michiganders lose the food in their fridge and the power they need to run their medical devices. Businesses lose stock and operating hours. Local governments lose when they have to pay for warming centers and backup generation. But utility executives and investors continue to pad their profits with ratepayer money that should have been invested in keeping the power on.”

“We can’t let power companies hold all the power,” Aiyash said. “We pay the highest residential electricity rates in the nation for reliability that is nearly the worst. These bills will help the people of Michigan hold these monopolies responsible for delivering the service we pay for.”

House Bill 6043 (Rabhi) would require electrical utilities to automatically credit the bills of residential consumers for outages at a rate that increases for longer outages; require electrical utilities to compensate renters who do not directly pay electrical bills, either at a set rate or for actual losses; require electrical utilities to compensate nonresidential customers for outages according to a formula based on their average hourly load; and require electrical utilities to compensate local governments for the costs of responding to outages such as operating backup generation, deploying emergency services, and operating warming/cooling centers.

House Bill 6044 (Aiyash) would prohibit electrical utilities from passing the cost of outage compensation on to customers in the form of higher rates.

House Bill 6045 (Rabhi) would require electrical utilities to automatically provide additional compensation to electrical customers who experience multiple outages.

House Bill 6046 (Aiyash) would require electrical utilities to disclose information about the number and duration of outages on customers’ bills.

House Bill 6047 (Aiyash) would require electrical utilities to file their distribution investment and maintenance plans as a contested case with the MPSC, so that this crucial reliability planning process will be accountable to the public.