|Laura Chappelle, Chairman || Dorothy Wideman|
|David A. Svanda || Mary Jo Kunkle|
|Robert B. Nelson|| 517.241.6160|
LANSING, July 25. The Michigan Public Service Commission today announced its
preference for a combined electric and gas customer education mass media campaign and
directed each gas utility subject to the Commission's statutory rate jurisdiction to file a
statement, within 30 days, regarding whether it will participate in the program as outlined in the
CHOICE Advisory Council's proposal and settlement agreement. The statements of companies
choosing to participate must also include a commitment to provide their allocated share of the
funding. The Council is a working group of representatives from Michigan utilities, ratepayer
interests, alternative energy suppliers, and the Commission staff. The proposed settlement
agreement, filed April 27, 2001, provides a plan to accomplish customer education for both
industries' open access programs in 2½ years, with a budget of $33,980,000. The Commission
will not issue its final decision on the settlement agreement and CHOICE proposal until after the
gas utilities statements are filed.
Under open access, customers are able to choose their electric and natural gas providers.
On January 1, 2002, all Michigan electric customers will have the opportunity to choose their
electric supplier as a result of passage of the Customer Choice and Electricity Reliability Act.
To date, nearly 250,000 Michigan natural gas customers have exercised their right to choose an
alternate natural gas supplier. Within 3 years, this option will be available to all natural gas
customers. A mass media campaign is the centerpiece of the customer education plan. Due to
the limited number of competitive supplier choices that are readily available at this time, the
Commission directed the Council to continue to monitor local market indicators to refine the
timetable for implementation of the mass media campaign and identify a target launch date.
Today's order also approved the eleven candidates recommended for the Council subcommittee.
The Commission also found that combining the electric and natural gas program is in the
public interest and should produce cost savings and efficiencies by introducing the concept of
choice to the public for two closely related energy industries through a single, integrated
The MPSC is an agency within the Department of Consumer and Industry Services.
Case No. U-12133
July 25, 2001
(Gas utilities directed to file statements confirming participation in the CHOICE Advisory
Council's proposed combined statewide education program)