Customers who rely on Consumers Energy for natural gas service are seeing bills going up. The Michigan Public Service Commission last month agreed to allow the utility to increase rates by just over 9%.  Typical residential customers can expect an increase of almost $7.00 a month. Everything kicks in this month. Consumer’s request to the state was for an increase of $245 million, but the Public Service Commission cut it back about 40%. Consumers has nearly 2 million residential and business customers statewide.

While a 9 percent increase sounds like a lot, a utility spokesman points out that we're paying better than 20% less for natural gas than we were 10 years ago.  This agreement with the state also prevents Consumers from asking for another rate hike for another two years.

In other key terms of the agreement, Consumers Energy will:

-Make a one-time $2 million contribution to the Heat and Warmth Fund, which provides assistance to households needing help to pay energy bills, and other non-affiliated non-profits, with the funds directed to serve Consumers Energy customers.

-Continue its increased spending of $100 million for 2020 and $150 million starting in 2021 on its Enhanced Infrastructure Replacement Program, which replaces aging pipe with newer materials. Consumers Energy also will also file with the Commission annual planning and performance reports related to the replacement program.

-Hold a collaborative and work with stakeholders on the design of residential and commercial and industrial Demand Response pilot programs to be launched in late 2021.

-Accelerate the amortization schedule for its unprotected, non-property component of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act deferred tax liability and pre-1993 deferred tax liability to occur between Oct. 1, 2021, and Sept. 30, 2022. This will be approximately $84.5 million.

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