Energy panel chair says measure key to Midland area
State Rep. Gary Glenn, chair of the House Energy Policy Committee, presided over a committee meeting Tuesday that resulted in a vote to keep electric costs down for Hemlock Semiconductor (HSC), which also will lessen the impact of future residential rate hikes.
Rep. Glenn, of Williams Township, and the committee, by a 16-2 vote, approved House Bill 5902, authorizing the Michigan Public Service Commission to establish the long-term industrial load rate, which will apply to HSC. Without the special rate, HSC and its parent company, Dow Chemical Co. in Midland, would build a power plant to provide electricity to the facility, which would have forced Consumers Energy to significantly increase residential rates.
The bill is HSC parent company Dow Chemical’s highest legislative priority in Lansing.
After an impassioned speech by Rep. Glenn, with the bill’s outcome in doubt, committee members withdrew all amendments and overwhelmingly approved the bill.
“Hemlock Semiconductor is unique in North America and competes directly with the Chinese. HSC consumes the greatest amount of electricity of any single site in the state – at full production it uses more power than is required to run the cities of Ann Arbor and Lansing combined,” Rep. Glenn said. “HSC has contributed to Midland-Saginaw-Bay Counties economy for 57 years and is one of the region’s largest job creators. By establishing this rate, HSC predicts it will attract similar businesses from Asia to locate in Michigan, which will further grow our economies.”
“Hemlock Semiconductor is the state’s largest power purchaser, and the bill will help us work through the Michigan Public Service Commission to reduce our costs and continue purchasing power from Consumers Energy,” said Brooke Beebe, vice president of external affairs at Hemlock Semiconductor “An alternative is for Hemlock Semiconductor to build our own electric generation facility. If we did so, the result would be much higher bills for other customers.”
Electricity makes up approximately 40 percent of HSC’s annual costs. If HSC built its own power plant, other Consumers customers would have to pick up Consumer’s costs of losing HSC, its single biggest customer, Glenn said.
“There really is no argument here,” Rep. Glenn said. “If we turn down the long-term rate, families will be hit with a larger electric bill increase. Approval of the measure not only prevents higher rate increases, it keeps one of the area’s key job creators running at full pace, and in competition with the Chinese, keeping high-tech jobs in the U.S. and here in mid-Michigan.”
The measure was approved by the committee and now heads to the full House for consideration.