The Michigan Public Service Commission has approved an electric rate settlement agreement authorizing Consumers Energy Co. to increase rates by $99.0 million and launch the state’s first electric vehicle infrastructure pilot program. Consumers will retain its current allowed return on common equity of 10% and agreed that it will not file a new electric general rate case before January 1, 2020. As part of the settlement agreement, Consumers also committed to spend at least $200 million annually on its electric distribution reliability capital program and $53 million annually on clearing vegetation and trimming trees around distribution lines. The utility will provide Commission staff with regular updates on its spending and an annual report on investments in both areas.
Consumers will also launch its PowerMIDrive pilot program, a three-year, $10 million effort to support the growing electric vehicle (EV) market in Michigan through new rates, rebates, and customer education. The program includes a Nighttime Savers Rate to encourage EV drivers to charge their vehicles between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. Residential EV drivers who sign up for the nighttime rate will be offered a $500 rebate for each EV. Consumers will also offer $5,000 rebates for chargers installed in public areas such as workplaces and multi-unit dwellings and up to $70,000 in rebates for the installation of a DC Fast charger. The commission approved Consumers’ request to recover program costs over five years through a deferred accounting mechanism, finding that the mechanism would act as an incentive for the utility to support EV charger placement throughout Michigan, avoid expensive future capital infrastructure investments when EV use is anticipated to grow, and educate consumers about the benefits of off-peak charging. Re Consumers Energy Co., Case No. U-20134, Jan. 9, 2019 (Mich.P.S.C.).