The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) issued a ruling finalizing the rates and standard contract terms that Consumers Energy Co., one of Michigan’s largest investor-owned utilities, must pay for energy and capacity from solar energy facilities and other independent power producers under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA).
The MPSC originally determined Consumers’ avoided cost rates in an order issued last November, but was reviewing additional feedback provided by the solar industry, Consumers Energy and other stakeholders. Under federal law, these costs must be at or below the cost the utility would pay to buy power on the market or generate from its own portfolio. The MPSC also ruled that it will revisit a range of related issues in Consumers’ pending Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) proceeding that will be concluded sometime next year.
Following is a statement on today’s ruling from Sean Gallagher, vice president of state affairs for the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA):
“The MPSC’s ruling provides much-needed certainty in the Michigan solar market, which has experienced delayed project development and a lack of substantial solar industry investment. With these rates in place, Consumers Energy can begin investing in cost-effective solar projects to the benefit of its customers. However, there is still more work to do, and how the MPSC rules on Consumers’ Integrated Resource Plan will play a big role in determining the future of clean energy in Michigan.”
With 118 megawatts (MW) installed, enough solar energy to power 18,500 homes, Michigan ranks 33rd in the country for installed solar capacity. Today’s decision paves the way for a dramatic increase in installed solar capacity in Michigan. Michigan’s solar market is forecast to add 605 MW of solar over the next five years, a 347 percent growth rate, the 5th largest percentage growth of any state. These forecasts could grow substantially, depending on the MPSC’s ruling on Consumers Energy’s IRP.
— Solar Builder magazine