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Citizens for Michigan's Energy Future

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Michigan utilities support local schools, teachers and communities

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016

Contact: Sara Wurfel, swurfel@truscottrossman.com

517-487-9320 (o); 517-599-3470 (m)

Senate Bills 437 and 438 sustain choice, secure reliable energy future for schools

LANSING — Investments in communities across Michigan from the state’s two largest utilities supported about 4,000 teachers in classrooms throughout the Great Lakes State in 2015. Now, legislation pending in the Michigan House would secure a strong energy future for Michigan school districts. Senate Bills 437 and 438 – which recently passed the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support – chart an affordable, reliable and clean energy future for Michigan and its schools.

“Electricity that we can count on to power our schools and classrooms is key to ensuring a stable and productive environment for our students to learn and thrive,” said Matthew Cortez, Essexville-Hampton Public Schools Superintendent. “That’s why we support the path outlined in the current legislative proposal. It will help districts and communities throughout Michigan, like ours, have a reliable, affordable and clean energy future. Ensuring that every energy supplier is held to the same fair and common sense reliability standards helps everyone in Michigan.”

Since 2009, Michigan’s hometown utilities have helped 335 local school districts with energy efficiency programs. Those efforts have generated more than $13 million in rebates and more than $160 million in lifetime energy savings for the schools, according to data from the utilities, the Michigan Energy Efficiency Contractors Association and Michigan Saves. That is an average of more than $500,000 in savings for each district.

In addition to helping schools reduce energy costs, utility tax payments provide significant support for local schools. In 2015 according to the Michigan Department of Treasury’s 2015 Commercial, Industrial and Utility Property Tax Report, Consumers Energy and DTE Energy paid about $252 million in property taxes specifically earmarked for schools, enough to support 4,000 Michigan teachers. Over the next 10 years, experts project that number to swell to an additional $1.2 billion, generating enough to support 20,000 teachers as the companies continue to invest in Michigan.

“Michigan’s hometown utilities are doing everything they can to support a strong energy future for our state, including our schools,” said Steve Transeth, former Michigan Public Service Commissioner and advisor to Citizens for Michigan’s Energy Future. “We just can’t gamble with electric reliability. We’re all interconnected and the failure of one electric supplier to meet their reliability responsibilities, compromises reliability for everyone on the grid. This legislation ensures that alternative electric suppliers (AES’) have the capacity and resources necessary to serve their customers, which helps improve energy reliability that’s crucial to the state and every Michigander.”

Transeth also pointed to analysis, testimony and correspondence on SBs 437 and 438, which clearly shows that Michigan’s retail open access program is preserved – from current customers being able to remain in the choice program if they choose as well as potential, future customers having the option to switch and participate in choice if they wish. The legislation simply requires energy providers to be responsible for the energy needs of their own customers’, including schools.

Twelve coal-fired power plants have closed in Michigan in 2016 due to age and environmental standards. That’s the beginning of a total of 25 power plants that will be forced to shut down by 2020, which has resulted in many experts predicting possible energy shortfalls in Michigan by 2018, less than two years away.

“We’re working nonstop to ensure a strong public school system that works for our students and community. When decisions of others can put our energy future at risk in Essexville beyond our control, that’s a major concern,” said Cortez. “Passing Senate Bills 437 and 438 should be a priority – they will sustain fair energy choice, and are necessary to ensuring a reliable, affordable and clean energy future for all in Michigan.”

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