MPSC To Put Costly Bite On Utilities

January 30, 2004
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LANSING — The state’s capitol apparently heard the business and citizen complaints about power outages loud and clear.

The Michigan Public Service Commission reports adopting a new set of rules which — as of mid-month — it says will give Michigan’s electricity consumers some of the toughest standards in the country to protect them from “unacceptable” levels of service.

The standards have teeth. They will give customers credits on their electrical bills when private electrical generating companies fail to live up to a new set of standards — including meeting deadlines for restoration of power.

The new rules would accord customers a credit of $25 or an amount equal to their monthly service charge — whichever is greater 

According to J. Peter Clark, chair of the MPSC, the standards arise from the Customer Choice and Electric Reliability Act of 2000 that applies to Michigan’s investor-owned electric utilities and electric cooperatives.

“Of particular interest to electric customers,” Clark said in a statement last week, “is the establishment of acceptable levels of electric service performance.

“This includes deadlines for restoring services under normal and catastrophic conditions, answering customer calls, responding to complaints, reading meters and new service installations.”

He said the MPSC also may impose fines of up to $50,000 for repeated failures to meet the new standards, which will go into effect this month.

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