MLIVE: New legislation would open up lower-cost electricity for schools, hospitals, governments

"Rep. Gary Glenn on Thursday unveiled a new plan to expand energy choice as the debate over Michigan's energy future swirls on in Lansing. Glenn, R-Midland, has long been a proponent of allowing businesses and consumers to chose to purchase energy from alternative suppliers instead of their incumbent utilities.

GG_Energy_choice.jpgRep. Gary Glenn, vice chair of the House Committee on Energy Policy, unveils his plan to expand energy choice with House colleagues, various officials from some of Michigan’s largest companies, small-business owners, and educators.

...'Seven years ago, Lansing mandated that 90 percent of the electricity market be given to two utility companies, and we've all been paying the price every since,' Glenn said. 'During that time, there are at least 11,000 Michigan customers who have been waiting for years to enjoy the benefits of electric choice, which would save them $235 million each year.'

He'd like to lift the cap entirely, but said that wasn't politically feasible at this point. His legislation would allow taxpayer-funded entities like schools, local governments and higher education institutions to access the open market without counting toward the 10 percent cap, along with hospitals. The idea, bolstered by some public entities who have testified on the issue, is that these entities could save taxpayer dollars.

Howell Public Schools Assistant Superintendent for Business Richard Terres said the district was already participating in energy choice and seeing savings. They have already cut non-essentials, and if they lost energy choice they'd have to cut more. 'If we were to eliminate choice, approximately $180,000 would have to come out of the budget... those cuts would have to come directly out the the classroom, we have no other place to cut,' Terres said."

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