MI Attorney General Intervenes in Consumers Energy's Requests

Looking to ensure that Consumers Energy does not unlawfully pass on additional costs to its customers, Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox said Wednesday that he is taking action in two of the company's cases before the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC).

"Market pressures and international conditions continue to push gas prices higher and higher, and we are all feeling the pinch," Cox said. "This trend, however, does not give those in the energy business free range to gouge consumers.

"My office remains active in overseeing the energy industry and I will not hesitate to prosecute at the first sign of foul play," he said. "Today's action at the PSC will save ratepayers money while also allowing Consumers Energy to plan for the future."

The cases in question include Consumers' March 4 application before the MPSC, which requests authorization to issue bonds that would finance over $1 billion in new costs. Under the proposal, Cox said customers would be required to pay nearly $1.6 billion to pay off those bonds.

The second case in which Cox has gotten involved in is Consumers' December 2002 request to recover projected costs of natural gas sold from April 2003 through March 2004. In accordance with Michigan law, the utility company is entitled to recover from its customers increases in wholesale prices of natural gas, which, according to Consumers, will be $140 million more than the company originally predicted.

In order to defray costs to consumers and wait to see what actually happens with gas prices in the coming months, the attorney general has requested a temporary order be issued that lets Consumers Energy recoup only half of the projected increase in wholesale prices.

©Copyright 2003 Intelligence Press Inc. All rights reserved. The preceding news report may not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part, in any form, without prior written consent of Intelligence Press, Inc.