Customers Save Money as Utility Companies Surpass Efficiency Targets

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A report out this week from the Michigan Public Service Commission shows savings opportunities for customers as utility companies continue to meet or exceed efficiency standards set out by the state.

A law passed in 2008 sets energy savings goals by requiring utility companies to create a certain percentage of their energy from renewable sources.

According to the report, utility companies overall have been able to meet or exceed targets every year since 2008 by producing more energy from renewable sources and by offering energy saving programs and rebates to customers.

"It's much cheaper than building a new plant which is very expensive, regardless of the technology or fuel used," said Judy Palnau, spokesperson for the Michigan Public Services Commission.

"If you can be more efficient that is a way to save money not only immediately but in the future because now you don't need that new electric plant down the road."

Statewide funding for these energy saving programs totaled more than $240 million in 2012 allowing many utilities to now offer rebates for customers who buy more efficient appliances or install more efficiency thermostats.

"The cheapest energy is the energy you never use so that is the purpose of those programs by helping customers cut their bill by reducing their energy usage," Palnau said.

Consumers Energy offers more than 150 different rebates to customers, according to Brian Wheeler, a spokesperson for the company.

"It makes sense intuitively," Wheeler said. "You're cutting down on your energy usage so your bill is lower and at the same time you get money back in the form of a rebate check."

The average Consumers Energy customer pays roughly $3 per month in surcharges to help pay for these types of programs.

Wheeler said Consumers Energy has already committed to not having to raise their rates through at least 2015.

This report was submitted to Gov. Snyder's office following his call for a study last year to examine the future of Michigan's energy.

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