The Michigan Public Service Commission approved a settlement agreement that resolves a number of long-standing contract issues between Consumers Energy Co. and qualified independent power producers in five separate cases. The settlement follows the approval of Consumers’ integrated resource plan (IRP) that included a new framework for treatment of transactions between the Consumers and power producers under the federal Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA). The IRP includes competitive bidding for added power generation capacity, modified PURPA “avoided cost” rates and terms offered by the utility to qualifying facilities, and removal of disincentives to arrange power supplies from third parties.
Left unresolved in the IRP approval ruling were complaints filed against Consumers by qualified facilities seeking PURPA contracts with the utility. It also didn’t address a pending appeal before the Michigan Court of Appeals by Geronimo Energy LLC.The latest agreement includes a commitment from Consumers to purchase a total of 584 megawatts of solar energy under set terms from project developers. The agreement also resolves the complaints by more than 40 PURPA qualifying facilities (QFs) and streamlines the PURPA framework and allows for a limited waiver of the MPSC’s Electric Interconnection and Net Metering Standards to facilitate renewable energy project development. The signatories to the agreement represent a total of 3,300 megawatts of solar energy in Consumers’ interconnection queue. The agreement spells out the parameters for projects in the company’s interconnection queue to be considered for approval at various costs. It also sets a timeframe Consumers must meet to complete engineering reviews and distribution studies, and interconnection of the projects. Re Consumers Energy Co. et al., Case Nos. U-20615 et al., Sept. 11, 2019 (Mich.P.S.C.).