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Consumers, DTE seek special electric rates for large development projects

Michigan’s two largest investor-owned utilities seek to play a more active role in economic development — particularly in luring advanced manufacturing facilities to the state — with plans to offer new electricity rates for large expansion projects.

Jackson-based Consumers Energy and Detroit-based DTE Energy last month filed requests with the Michigan Public Service Commission to create new tariffs, or set rates, for new large customers coming onto the grid. Known as economic development tariffs in other states, the goal is to provide a level of certainty to potential companies making major investments, utility officials say.

In its filing, Consumers Energy specifically cites “10 active electric vehicle supply chain and other high-tech projects” considering sites both within and outside of its Lower Peninsula service territory as a driving factor for its proposal. Consumers Energy says the projects total roughly $64.8 billion in potential future investment and would create about 21,000 new jobs.

Brian Rich, Consumers Energy’s senior vice president and chief customer officer, said the proposed rate would be similar to what existing large industrial customers pay for electricity.

“The biggest difference between this and what an existing rate would be is the certainty,” he said, referring to varying offers utilities can make to potential companies. “In the world of economic development, you have site selectors looking at different criteria in different states. This rate gives them certainty when they pick a site. If a state doesn’t have an economic development rate, it can be disqualifying.”

Read full article at MiBiz