One of the biggest legislative battles in 2016 revolves around Michigan's energy policy. DTE and Consumers Power are lobbying vigorously to regain their monopolies in Michigan. Currently the state of Michigan has granted these two energy giants control of 90% of the market.
Legislative friends of the big two, State Representative Aric Nesbitt (R) and State Senator Mike Nofs (R) chair two key Lansing committees which have been tasked with updating Michigan's energy policy. (Some insiders say that the giants lobbied behind the scenes to help get Nesbitt and Nofs installed as chairmen of the committees which will decide their fate.)
Both legislators have been pushing plans that would effectively give the DTE/Consumers alliance control of the entire energy market in Michigan. This is good for their profits but bad for ratepayers and taxpayers. Below is an excerpt from MIRS, a newsletter for Lansing's political class, which illustrates this latest struggle between conservative legislators and those who do the bidding of Lansing insiders.
Rep. Aric Nesbitt (R) said this week there is room for technical and clerical changes in legislation overhauling the state's energy laws, but changes to the competition and competitive bidding pieces are unlikely.
...Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Midland, vice chair of the Energy Policy who is generally at odds with much of Mr. Nesbitt's plan, said he believes the (Public Service Commission) "should put any new electricity generation out to competitive bidding, meaning, for example, that Midland Cogeneration Venture could bid against Consumers Energy for the right to provide that new capacity."
He said the competitive bidding he and others within the caucus would like to see within the legislation goes beyond approving a plant and then allowing the utility to competitively bid the construction.
"We're talking about bidding for ownership of the new plant or project itself, not automatically awarding that new generation to an incumbent utility after which the only thing they bid out is its construction," he said.
Mr. Nesbitt said he doesn't believe changes regarding competitive bidding or the competition piece of the market are necessary to get the bills through the House.
...But Mr. Glenn said as long as advocates for choice and competitive bidding (such as the Michigan Chamber of Commerce) don't "fold" under negotiation pressures, he does not think the bills that came out of committee will clear the floor.
"It's better that we do nothing at all than do something that moves Michigan's energy market toward greater monopoly control, which would hurt our economy and job market by further increasing what are already the highest electricity rates in the Midwest," he said.
Mr. Nesbitt noted amendments regarding competition, including one that would allow all schools to be on the energy choice system without counting toward the 10 percent limit, were voted down in committee.
When asked if the support might be different on the House floor, Mr. Nesbitt, who is the majority floor leader, quipped: "I talked to the floor leader, and he is not supportive."
Gary Glenn is a champion for conservative causes. He was recently rated as Lansing's most effective freshman legislator. He was also rated as Lansing's most conservative. Representative Glenn is one of the few Republicans who will go to bat for individual taxpayers even if that means opposing those in his own party.