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Lansing: Debate To Begin On Electricity Deregulation

Hearings will begin this week in the state Legislature on a proposal to lift Michigan’s limit on electric companies competing for customers. A 2008 law says no more than 10 percent of the state’s electricity can come directly from a supplier other than a region’s primary utility. The utilities say that’s the only way they can manage their costs and keep rates down.

Republican state Representative Mike Shirkey says he believes the law is outdated.

“I happen to think going in the direction of a more competitive market is the answer,” he says. “There are others that believe we should go all the way in the other direction. I’m willing to go there, but I’m not willing to not have the debate.”

Shirkey made his comments on the Michigan Public Television show “Off The Record.”

The state’s major utilities have started an ad campaign to oppose Shirkey’s legislation. They say deregulation in other states led to higher rates, as well as brownouts and blackouts. 

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.