MPSC seeks public input on proposed updates to rules governing gas technical standards, including cyber-security

LANSING, MI (STL.News) The Michigan Public Service Commission is proposing to amend rules governing the technical standards for gas service for utilities under the Commission’s jurisdiction (Case No. U-20608), including cyber-security standards, and seeking public input on the changes.

The Commission’s proposed rules reflect emerging technological advancements in the area of metering, metering equipment inspections and tests, and would remove references to obsolete equipment from the existing rules.

The Commission also proposes to add a rule addressing cyber-security and uniform reporting practices for the utilities, one of the major recommendations made by the MPSC in its Statewide Energy Assessment released in September.  The proposed rules are attached as Exhibit B to today’s order.

The state’s gas technical standards are intended to promote safe and adequate gas service to the public, provide standards for uniform and reasonable practices by utility companies, and to encourage efficiency and safety.  The MPSC last updated the gas technical standards in 1993.

The MPSC will hold a public hearing on the proposed rules on Nov. 13, 2019, at 9 a.m. at the Commission’s offices, 7109 W. Saginaw Highway, Lansing. Any interested person may attend and participate.

The MPSC hearing site is accessible for people with disabilities, including parking for people with disability parking plates or placards.  Those who need accommodations should contact the Commission’s executive secretary at (517) 284-8090 or by email at mpscedockets@michigan.gov at least a week in advance to request mobility, visual, hearing or other assistance.

Written and electronic comments may be filed with the Commission and must be received by 5 p.m. Dec. 4, 2019; comments received after the deadline will not be considered.  Written comments should be sent to: Executive Secretary, Michigan Public Service Commission, P.O. Box 30221, Lansing, Michigan 48909, or submitted by email to MPSCEDockets@michigan.gov.  All information submitted to the MPSC in this matter will become public information subject to disclosure and available on the MPSC website in Case No. U-20608.

The MPSC in July sought permission from the Michigan Office of Administrative Hearings and Rules (MOAHR) to amend the rules, and MOAHR approved the request.  The MPSC submitted the draft rules to MOAHR and the Legislative Services Bureau for informal approvals that were granted in August.  A Regulatory Impact Statement was submitted to MOAHR in August and approved Sept. 6.

The proposed amendments are for technical standards for gas service, R 460.2301 to R 460.2383.  The proposed rules are available on the Commission’s E-Dockets website at Michigan.gov/MPSCEDockets.  You may also contact the Michigan Public Service Commission, PO Box 30221, Lansing, Michigan 48909 or 800-292-9555 for a free copy of the proposed rules.  The rules also will be published in the Nov. 1, 2019, issue of the Michigan Register under 2019-061 LR, and may be accessed at the MOAHR website, https://www.michigan.gov/lara/0,4601,7-154-89334_10576_92306_92311—,00.html, under “Pending Rules Activity.”

MPSC GRANTS REHEARING, APPROVES APPLICATION DEADLINE EXTENSION FOR INDIANA MICHIGAN POWER CO. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT RIDER

The MPSC Thursday approved a rehearing and agreed with Indiana Michigan Power Co. to extend the application deadline for the utility’s economic development rider (EDR) that promotes economic development based on plant and facilities investments (Case No. U-20494). I&M initially filed for the extension and other modifications of the EDR in March, but the Commission rejected the request in an Aug. 20 order, saying it was better handled in the utility’s ongoing rate case (Case No. U-20359).  In Thursday’s order, the Commission agreed with I&M about keeping the EDR program open to customers until Jan. 1, 2021, or the date of the final order in I&M’s rate case, whichever comes first, allowing the program to continue while the Commission considers issues in the utility’s rate case.

MPSC APPROVES RATE REDUCTION FOR CUSTOMERS OF UPPER MICHIGAN ENERGY RESOURCES CORP.

The MPSC Thursday approved a refund to ratepayers of Upper Michigan Energy Resources Corp. (UMERC) who are in the Wisconsin Public Service Commission Rate Zone of the Upper Peninsula (Case No. U-20183).  Customers of UMERC will receive on their November and December 2019 bills a credit of $0.01427 per therm to remedy an over-collection from customers in that zone.  In 2018, after the passage of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA), the MPSC moved quickly to ensure utility customers received refunds in a three-step approach to address the impact of lower corporate taxes.  UMERC filed both a first step, Credit A, application, for a rate credit going-forward, and a Credit B application addressing the impacts of the TCJA from Jan. 1, 2018, to the date of the utility’s order in the Credit A case.  In an amended report filed in September, UMERC explained it had miscalculated a per-therm surcharge and over-collected a total of $53,783.16 with interest.

MPSC APPROVES SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT IN UPPER MICHIGAN ENERGY RESOURCES CORP.’S INTEGRATED RESOURCE PLAN

The MPSC Thursday approved a settlement agreement in Upper Michigan Energy Resource Corp.’s (UMERC) integrated resource plan (IRP), saying it is in the public interest and represents a fair and reasonable resolution of the proceeding (Case No. U-20470).  The Commission noted that several developments happened while UMERC’s IRP was pending, including the release in September of the MPSC’s Statewide Energy Assessment in Case No. U-20464 and the creation of the Upper Peninsula Energy Task Force in June.  The Commission noted that the energy assessment and the final report of the U.P. task force both likely will have provisions affecting UMERC IRP filings.  Given these impacts, the Commission ordered UMERC to file its next IRP within two years of today’s order, accelerating it from the required five-year review.  Finally, the Commission also notified UMERC that it expects a more robust record in future IRP cases related to commodity price risks, diversity of electricity generation supply and whether proposed levels of peak load reduction and energy waste reduction are reasonable and cost-effective.

GOV. WHITMER PARTNERS WITH MPSC TO LAUNCH MI POWER GRID

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Public Service Commission Thursday announced the launch of MI Power Grid, designed to guide Michigan residents and businesses through the energy industry’s rapid changes in the transition to clean energy.  Learn more about MI Power Grid at Michigan.gov/MIPowerGrid.