Schools across Michigan benefit from energy choice

Published 10:20 am Tuesday, January 26, 2016

LANSING, Mich. — School districts across Michigan have demonstrated significant interest in energy choice and are asking the Michigan State Legislature to keep the marketplace flexible so districts can benefit from the opportunity, officials said.

“School districts continue to remain focused on delivering high quality educational choices for students and families, yet each year they struggle with their finances, as costs for staff and health insurance continue to increase,” said Diane Block, President of the Michigan Schools Energy Cooperative (MISEC). “Any effort to eliminate energy choice for schools only hurts their bottom line, and makes it more difficult for districts to balance their budgets.”

MISEC has enrolled 82 school districts to the energy choice waiting list, demonstrating an expressed need by schools to increase the 10 percent cap on electric choice, Block said.

MISEC officials, however, remain concerned that despite legislative rhetoric, energy bills as currently written in the Michigan House and Senate are designed to eliminate choice by requiring alternative energy suppliers to meet extreme conditions that utilities like Consumers Energy and Detroit Edison do not.

“Our experts believe strongly that energy bills as currently written will remove any potential savings for schools because alternative energy suppliers that want to access the Michigan energy market will ultimately be required to purchase energy from an energy monopoly that will force them to pay higher costs,” said Ray Telman, MISEC Secretary/Treasurer.

MISEC officials continue to meet with legislators on both sides of the aisle to make that point abundantly clear, Telman said.

MISEC, a non-profit energy cooperative, is an entity that is focused on ensuring member districts achieves efficiencies in their school energy budgets. MISEC — through its work for more than 325 school districts across the state — saved its members $31 million in electric savings over the last two school years.

“Because of the work of MISEC, more dollars that would typically be dedicated to powering schools can be dedicated to classroom instruction and learning,” Block said. “Annual electric choice savings alone equates to approximately $35 for each Michigan K-12 student enrolled in member districts.”