The CARE Team

The CARE team (left to right)
Front Row – Kelly Kitchen, Past President; Dr. Robert Loube, economist; Dr. Kenneth Rose, economist; Connie Groh, attorney;
Second Row – Robert Burns, attorney and regulatory expert; John Liskey, attorney; Douglas Jester, expert.

Background

Michigan has a complicated system for utility rate regulation. There are several types of electric utilities. Companies like Detroit Edison, Consumers Energy and UPPCO are investor owned utilities and are rate regulated by the Michigan Public Service Commission. Some municipalities own their own electric company like the Lansing Board of Water & Light or the Marquette Board of Water & Light. In other areas of the state, customer owned utilities provide the electric service. These are known as co-ops. Only the investor owned utilities are rate regulated by the Public Service Commission. The municipal owned utilities and co-ops are locally rate regulated.

This organization, like several others in the state, represent the residential customers of the investor owned utilities. Each year there are at least two rate-related cases for each utility. Some cases deal with the fuel adjustment clauses seen on your bill as the PSCR charge (power supply cost recovery). Examples of other cases include general rate cases, long term planning cases and certificate of necessity cases that seek MPSC permission to build new electric plants. All this to say there are lots of cases to keep an eye on to make sure residential ratepayers only pay their fair share of the revenue requirement each utility needs to be profitable and earn a guaranteed rate of return.

CARE focuses on Upper Peninsula utilities and doesn’t participate in Detroit Edison or Consumers Energy cases because other residential ratepayer advocates participate in those cases. We  focus our attention on the companies that don’t have a consumer ratepayer watchdog. In order to do so, we need to have members in each service territory. As long as we have members that are customers of the electric utility we have standing to intervene in that utility’s rate related cases. So we encourage people to become members of our group. Membership is free and our membership list will be kept confidential.

We urge you to sign up today so that we can continue to challenge any unreasonable rate increases by your utility company.

John Liskey 

After spending several years in the utility law Special Litigation division of the Attorney General’s office, John Liskey decided to start up a non-profit corporation dedicated to fighting utility rate increases in the Upper Peninsula and other areas of the state that traditionally had no Intervenors dedicated exclusively to ratepayer representation. While at the Attorney General’s office, Liskey was counsel to the Utility Consumer Participation Board, the state board charged with the responsibility of making grants to Intervenors in power supply rate recovery cases pursuant to Act 304.  During this period Liskey observed that there were two important areas that were not being covered by any group, the Upper Peninsula, and utility rate proceedings at the regional and federal level.  Hence the Citizens Against Rate Excess was born. Its initial focus was on PSCR cases, the activities of the regional transmission authority known as the Mid-Continent Independent System Operator (MISO) and the Federal Regulatory Energy Commission (FERC). As it has turned out, those were the exact same areas that have presented Michigan with some of its biggest challenges in utility rate regulation. Now, since the legislature expanded the scope of cases that residential ratepayer advocates can engage, CARE has intervened in rate cases, tax refund cases and plans to intervene in upcoming Integrated Resource Planning cases of Upper Peninsula investor owned utilities.