Energy chair: Decision could cost ratepayers billions
State Rep. Gary Glenn, chairman of the House Energy Policy Committee, has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for specific emails, calendar items, text messages and other information from the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) in light of the MPSC’s decision to approve a DTE gas plant that would cost customers more than $1 billion.
Rep. Glenn (R-Williams Township) said he questions the need for the plant, and is requesting the information to provide more transparency in the decision-making process.
“It is imperative that the MPSC is transparent in its deliberations regarding orders that will increase costs on Michigan ratepayers,” Rep. Glenn said. “There are clear indications of disagreements between staff and commissioners, and we need to know the details.”
Prior to the MPSC’s decision, the commission’s staff ruled that DTE’s “sloppy math justifying the gas plant could mean that the company’s proposed project is not the most reasonable and prudent choice,” Rep. Glenn said. Staff members also testified that DTE had not modeled options that are achievable and cost-effective, specifically cost efficiency approaches to save ratepayers money, he added.
“The commissioners chose not to heed those warnings even though they could have sent DTE back to the drawing board to run more models and make sure ratepayers save money,” Rep. Glenn said. “The commissioners ignored the information they were presented and sided with DTE.”
In his request, Rep. Glenn asked for the following:
- All meeting schedules and calendar entries from Jan. 1, 2016 to March 26, 2018, for MPSC Chair Sally A. Talberg, and Commissioners Norman J. Saari and Rachel A. Eubanks.
- All electronic copies of public records of all communications including email and attachments, and text message from the same timeframe between DTE and Talberg: Saari; Eubanks; Heather Durian of the Michigan Attorney General’s office; and Director of MPSC Energy Resources Division Paul Proudfoot.
- All electronic copies of public records of all communications, including text messages and email, including attachments, between the MSPC commissioners and the American Gas Association during that same timeframe.
The American Gas Association is the trade organization for natural gas companies, Rep. Glenn said, noting that DTE President and Chief Operating Officer Jerry Norcia is a board director for the association.
The American Gas Association regularly lobbies utility commissioners and sponsors utility commissioner conferences, Rep. Glenn said. DTE paid the American Gas Association more than $550,000 in 2016, the legislator added.