Monday, September 28, 2015

Open letter to Consumers Energy

I recently received from you a mailing asking me to contribute $1.50 per month to something called the Green Generation program. According to that letter, my contribution would support “projects like the Michigan Wind Farm in Ubly, which generates enough enough electricity to power every home in a city the size of Battle Creek for one year.

You neglected to mention how much standby generation by conventional means is still required. At least a third of us know that, “Wind is so undependable that fossil fuels have to be available to supplement it over 50 percent of the time.” Maybe I'm part of a less green, as in naive, generation - because your appeal did not inspire me.

I suppose it is in your interest to avoid mentioning wind power reliability when asking me directly to support your latest attempt to suck up dwindling Federal subsidies for windmills. Especially since Consumers Energy is statutorily allowed profit margins of 10 to 12 percent annually, and is guaranteed a 90-percent share of the market by the State of Michigan, while you spend money on misleading advertising about electricity choice: To make sure we don't have it.

If Solyndra had your deal, they'd still be in business.

Would supporting projects like the one in Ubly include contributing to monopoly maintenance advertising? It's a reasonable question. Any reasonable answer would include reference to the word "fungible."

Your letter reminded me that a good part of your past profitability is related to money you've already received from me via taxes and surcharges. This realization did not produce the effect I think you desired, since it prompted me to check on how bad that damage has been and continues to be.

In 2011, you bragged about $29 million in property tax revenue a wind farm project,
“...is expected to provide to Mason County over the first 20 years of operation. The Mason County Planning Commission approved a special land use permit application for the $232 million Lake Winds Energy Park project last week.

What was left out of the press release was that “the project is expected to receive $72 million in federal tax credits from the federal stimulus program, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Consumers Energy spokesman Dennis Marvin said the $72 million in federal tax credits is expected to come over a 10-year period.”
That's net $43 million for Consumers Energy from Federal taxpayers, after $29 million in redistribution pass-throughs. And how's that lawsuit about this wind farm working out for you?

From 2009 through 2011 you charged me $2.50 per month as a Renewable Energy Surcharge. I already paid for constructing the damn windmills, but, as we'll see, maybe not for the maintenance.

Now you're asking me to give you just $1.50 of my own volition. Why didn't you ask the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) to put that back on my invoice? You're running sort of a poll, I guess, anyone dumb enough to contribute probably voted for the guy who said he'd make electricity rates involving coal “skyrocket,” and the results might be able to be used to pressure the MI legislature.

In November 2014the MPSC approved a settlement agreement authorizing Consumers Energy to recover $9,752,187, with interest, in deferred major maintenance expense.” That's one way to ensure your profit margins stay in double digits. What interest rate was used?

In December 2014, Consumers Energy requested of the MPSC “an electric rate increase of $163 million in its electric rates. On June 4, 2015 Consumers self-implemented a portion of the requested increase, $110 million, subject to refund, as authorized by the MPSC. The rate increase reflects major company investments to maintain and improve service.” Maintenance again, how much of it is for windmills?

In September of this year you charged me $1.41 for the income taxes you pay on your “securitization charge” - charges for which you billed me an additional $2.49. So, I'm paying $3.90 a month, over a third of which is your taxes, so you canreplace traditional financing with low-interest bonds, lowering overall costs for customers.” Thanks.

In September I paid $4.14 for “Energy Efficiency” “that helps recover costs associated with the company’s Energy Efficiency Programs required by the 2008 energy law.” Maybe not your fault, but I can't recall any lobbying against it. Certainly nothing reaching the level of your fight to maintain your 90 percent monopoly.

From June through September you charged me extra for usage over 600 kWh becauseThe tiered pricing structure reflects the higher price to buy and produce electricity during the summer. This is primarily because of the increase in customer demand (load on the system) associated with air conditioning... Consumers Energy does not make a profit on the cost of fuel or purchased power.

OK. I guess you are more likely to purchase power (Ontario?) when the wind isn't blowing. And, of course, you're using fuel to keep your standby generators turning anyway. That's like me paying twice.

I realize this green idiocy is not all your fault. We have more than enough fools in the State and National legislatures. However, they didn't force you to waste money on that mailing insulting my intelligence, and you're more than happy to take 'their' money. Unfortunately, the money isn't sufficiently laundered. I know a bunch of it came out of my pocket.

So, while I appreciate the opportunity to further the green propagenda, I think I'll wait until you're begging me for funds to dismantle windmills instead of building more. Then I'll laugh. Until the legislature lets you bill me for it.

If you'd really like some help, I could get behind a big effort to build some nuclear plants. I'll bet there's enough concrete in those windmill pads to have built a couple already.

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