FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: LEIGH FIFELSKI
TUESDAY, Oct. 20, 2009 (517) 999-3646
LANSING — Consumers Energy is failing to return more than $14 million it owes to Michigan ratepayers while pursuing an unneeded costly new coal plant that would result in higher electric rates for consumers, citizens groups said today.
“Consumers Energy has unfairly taken millions of dollars from Michigan ratepayers – and the only appropriate and ethical thing for Consumers to do is to return the money as required by the Michigan Public Service Commission,” said Linda Teeter, Executive Director of Michigan Citizens Action. “Consumers Energy needs to be held accountable and that begins with returning money to Michigan citizens who are already struggling in today’s tough economy.”
The Michigan Public Service Commission last week ordered Consumers to explain why it won’t refund more than $14 million it should return to ratepayers since it did not spend that money on services Consumers Energy claimed it needed or would perform.
The PSC said Consumers Energy owes ratepayers nearly $7.6 million in refunds from money it collected through a rate increase for coal plant maintenance that hasn’t been used for that purpose. The PSC said Consumers also owes ratepayers more than $6.5 million for tree trimming and maintenance it hasn’t done. At the same time, Consumers Energy wants to build a coal plant in Bay City that the PSC and many others have said Michigan doesn’t need. Consumers Energy has said it will raise rates to build the coal plant.
“Big Coal equals big rip off, and Consumers Energy is leading the way when it comes to failing to honor its responsibilities to ratepayers,” Tiffany Hartung of Sierra Club said. “They reneged on a promise made four years ago to issue refunds on unspent monies collected from ratepayers for maintaining coal plants and now they want us to believe them when they say we should pay higher rates for more dirty coal plants. I say once bitten, twice shy.”
“Consumers Energy is failing miserably to live up to its promises, and Michigan citizens are continuing to pay for it even as they struggle to make ends meet,” David Holtz of Progress Michigan said. “Consumers Energy must return the money it owes to people and stop taking more from us to build a coal plant it doesn’t need. This is hypocrisy, this is robbery and this must stop.”