Manager's Message: “One Size Fits All” Doesn’t Fit HomeWorks

Manager's Message: “One Size Fits All” Doesn’t Fit HomeWorks

In 2008, our state legislators passed several laws that set new directions for Michigan’s energy use.

Among those were the renewable portfolio standard, our Energy Optimization program, and choice of power suppliers for the largest industrial customers.

At the same time, the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) also took a close look at how the state’s two biggest electric utilities responded to power outages, and created an incentive to encourage faster action.

If power restoration is delayed past certain time limits, depending on the circumstances, an electric customer can request a one-time $25 credit. For large utilities with over a million customers, these credits could add up quickly.

However, in creating this incentive, the MPSC decided to include ALL Michigan electric utilities, big or small.

For a large utility like Consumers Energy, its stockholders would see those credits adding up quickly, eating into their dividends, and they would raise a fuss to management to improve operations.

But for a member-owned co-op like HomeWorks, operated on a not-for-profit basis, a credit paid to one member simply comes out of another member’s share.

The good news is that, to date, we have never paid out one of these outage credits, and it’s because we restore outages within the MPSC guidelines.

So at our Annual Meeting in August, we plan to ask the delegates to take this credit right off the table. A positive vote will exempt HomeWorks from this $25 credit.

That’s the way decisions should be made for your co-op -- by our member-owners, not by some distant commission applying a “one size fits all” rule.

Let me assure you that eliminating this potential outage credit does not mean we don’t have to perform as well as, or better than, we have in the past.

If you don’t like the job we’re doing, you have the responsibility as a member-owner to let your board representative know you’re not happy. Their contact information is printed right on this page, every issue, and is available at homeworks.org. They will make sure co-op staff get the message.

We also provide time before every board meeting when members may comment, and we have many other ways by which you can contact us, from phone calls to emails to posting on our Facebook page.

What do you think about this issue of an outage credit? Should delegates vote to exempt the co-op, or to keep it on the books?

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