With the 2008 energy law being revamped in the Legislature, the question of energy choice has become a topic of conversation.

Last week, the Michigan Chamber supported a substitute version of SB 437 that includes an increased renewable energy standard of 15 percent by 2021. Electric choice advocates are not as supportive, speculating whether the bills sustain choice. Electric choice in the 2008 energy law limits 10 percent of the electric market for alternative electric suppliers or those not considered to be traditional utilities like DTE Energy and Consumers Energy. Major utilities argue alternative electric suppliers are not paying their fair share for the electric grid.

Senator Peter MacGregor (R-Rockford) intends to propose an amendment that may alleviate the tension and secure choice sustainability. The amendment will provide ratepayer protections and set up a process for the Public Service Commission (PSC) to ensure ratepayers receive the best value when new electric generation is being brought online. It additionally eliminates the language of a proposed capacity tax. The capacity tax refers to the tariff the PSC could charge under a proposed deal between the state and the Midcontinent Independent System Operator on AESs to purchase power if no contracts have been reached by other suppliers.

Senator MacGregor’s amendment has yet to be proposed. It is likely the Senate will take up the energy issues following the election.