Manager's Message: It's Time to Get to Work
In recent weeks, you may have seen a television advertisement that indicates Michigan is in a very precarious position in the area of future power supply. For some utilities in our state, that may be true; those ads cast a very ominous cloud over Michigan and what could happen.
However, I want to share with you how HomeWorks, and our power supplier, Wolverine Power Cooperative, ARE investing for the future power supply needs of our member-consumers. Furthermore, I want to provide some details on who is behind those rather gloomy television advertisements and what they hope to achieve.
First, HomeWorks and Wolverine are currently investing approximately $175 million in the development and construction of the Alpine Power Plant near Gaylord. This 430-megawatt natural gas fired power plant, which will become operational next year, will meet the future electric capacity needs of HomeWorks and four of our fellow electric cooperatives well into the future. We are working hard to meet your future electric needs.
Now let’s talk about those ads that you frequently see during the 6 pm news on your local stations. Those ads are the work of one of our state’s largest public relations firms in conjunction with Detroit Edison and Consumers Energy—Michigan’s two largest electric utilities. Their multi-million dollar advertising campaign has one very simple goal—to eliminate electric competition in Michigan. It is our understanding that they are spending $2-3 million on those ads, in an effort to enact changes in state law by scaring electric consumers and our elected officials in Lansing.
Michigan law, enacted in 2008, allows 10% of an electric utility’s customers to choose another supplier. Michigan’s electric cooperatives believe the threat of 10% of our sales base leaving us for another supplier has made us more attentive to customer needs and competitive pressures. In fact, I am proud to point out that HomeWorks has NEVER lost a member-customer to another supplier—even though our large customers have had that option since 2000. We believe competitive rates and high quality service are the reason our large customers have chosen to stay with HomeWorks.
The big utilities in our state, in conjunction with their Lansing public relations firm, are attempting to use scare tactics to change state law and eliminate competitive options for their large customers. They say they need greater assurance that their customers won’t leave for other suppliers before they can build additional generating plants. They said the same thing in 2008 when state legislators reduced their risk by capping the market at 10%. Ironically, they have both invested hundreds of millions of dollars in emissions upgrades to many of their coal plants over the past several years.
We believe that the current 90% guarantee that our state’s two largest utilities currently operate under provides more than enough assurance to invest both in Michigan and in the future electric supply needs of their customers. There are many small businesses HomeWorks serves throughout mid-Michigan that would be very happy with a 90% guarantee of their sales base!
A good portion of the generation fleet of the state’s two largest utilities is old, dirty and needs to be either upgraded or totally replaced due to new federal environmental standards. This isn’t new news. I am proud to say that Michigan’s electric cooperatives aren’t investing your dollars in ominous television ads but rather in your future, with new renewable energy projects and a new, $175 million natural gas generating facility near Gaylord. In the end, we have an obligation to serve your needs and we take that obligation seriously.
It’s time to get to work.