Protecting Municipal Energy Efficiency
In the wake of our tremendous success advocating for LED streetlight rates that reward energy efficiency investments, SEMREO is launching a new organization to represent municipalities’ interests in utility regulatory matters and in their direct dealings with utilities.
Municipalities in Michigan have too little control over energy costs, providers and technologies. Energy costs can eat up 5% or more of a municipality’s budget, leading many to pursue energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives in hopes of cutting costs, reducing environmental impacts and improving quality of life.
Unfortunately, many attractive energy projects aren’t feasible for municipalities because of regulatory or ownership barriers. For example, conversion to LED streetlights in Michigan has gone slower than many municipalities would like because utilities own most of the fixtures and thus control the pace of conversion, as well as what wattage and brand of LED are installed.
Likewise, municipalities have little control over energy costs because they generally cannot choose their energy providers, and prices are set by the Michigan Public Service Commission rather than through direct negotiation with the providers in a competitive market.
Finally, most municipalities lack expertise and capacity on staff to negotiate effectively with utilities about priorities, technology choices and costs of energy infrastructure projects.
Municipalities need ongoing, not episodic, representation in utility issues.
By bundling resources and clout, and retaining experts in economics, energy, and regulation, the Michigan Municipal Association for Utility Issues (MI-MAUI) will give municipalities a stronger voice in energy utility issues.
General services will include:
- Engage regulated utilities in ongoing dialogue on regulatory and business policy issues related to clean energy programs, to identify issues of common concern and collaboratively craft solutions
- Monitor, and participate when necessary in MPSC and other utility regulatory proceedings that impact municipalities’ ability to pursue money-saving clean energy projects. However, MAUI will emphasize collaboration with utilities in preference to intervention in regulatory processes
- Provide technical and financial advice and support to municipalities in their business relationships with utilities.
The Association’s core mission will be to save money for municipalities by making clean energy projects pay off, but it may engage with other utility issues when they arise incidental to its priority agenda.
Municipalities in all areas of Michigan are eligible to join, and all members will participate in setting the priorities of MAUI through collaboration and voting.
If you are a municipal representative interested in having your municipality join MAUI, please contact Executive Director Rick Bunch at email@example.com.