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Mich. PSC Forum Explores Changes in Distribution System Planning

Posted by Advanced Energy Economy on Aug 4, 2017




Michigan Public Service Commission, Energy Leaders Explore Changes in Distribution System Planning

MPSC Commissioners, staff, utilities, and other state energy leaders and advanced energy experts discuss best practices, utility plans, and technologies from electric vehicles to energy storage that can modernize the electric power system in Michigan to deliver savings and improved service

Lansing, Mich., August 4, 2017 — Yesterday, Advanced Energy Economy Institute held a forum on distribution system planning for a 21st century electric grid at the Michigan Public Service Commission. The forum for Michigan energy leaders explored distribution system planning for the state, examining a range of best practices across the region and nation for bringing new technologies into the electric power system for the benefit of customers and the power grid. 

Distribution system planning is undergoing a significant evolution in what is planned for and how, with rapidly changing advanced energy technologies and customer expectations. Michigan is at the cutting edge, having adopted orders earlier this year for the state's two large investor-owned utilities (IOUs) — Consumers Energy and DTE — to file five-year distribution system plans every year. Officials from the two utilities presented and discussed their recently filed draft plans at the forum. 

Other topics discussed included integrated distribution system planning best practices and lessons learned from around the region and nationally, with presentations by industry expert Paul DeMartini and former Hawaii commissioner and former DTE executive Mike Champley. Jamie Hall of General Motors discussed electric vehicle market growth and opportunities for Michigan; Paul Wyman of Lockheed Martin Energy discussed demand response and other distributed energy resources like storage; and Forrest Small from Black+Veatch talked about grid technologies to maximize benefits for consumers.

Sessions also addressed how to prioritize and sequence new distribution system investments; how to mitigate costs by using non-wires alternatives (NWAs) to avoid or defer traditional investments in equipment; and considering enhancements to traditional distribution planning to improve the process and outcome. 

"We see considerable value in bringing stakeholders together to examine the latest issues, technologies and best practices," said Sally Talberg, Chairman of the MPSC.  "This collaborative approach will help Michigan evolve its power system to meet customers’ needs over the long term in a cost-effective manner.” 

“Consumers Energy has a comprehensive plan to ensure ongoing reliability and affordability for our 1.8 million Michigan electric customers,” said Tim Sparks, Consumers Energy’s Vice President of Electric Grid Integration. “We look forward to working with the Michigan Public Service Commission and others to demonstrate we have reliable energy supply resources and a delivery system that continues to meet the energy demands of our growing state.”

“We appreciate and look forward to engaging with the commissioners and other key stakeholders to implement a new robust planning process, benefiting both our customers and Michigan overall,” said Heather Rivard, Senior Vice President for DTE Electric’s Distribution Operations. “This collaborative, inclusive effort will help to ensure we can provide our customers with safe, reliable and affordable energy today and into the future.”

“We applaud the process Michigan is undertaking in this critical area, and Chairman Talberg, in particular, for her leadership and vision,” said Hannah Polikov, Director, Public Utility Commission Program at Advanced Energy Economy. "We have been impressed with the engagement and commitment demonstrated by the commission, the utilities and other stakeholders as we work together to pursue the vision of a 21st century electricity system for Michigan.”

“Increased adoption of electric vehicles presents a unique opportunity to create long-term benefits for customers and the state’s electric grid,” said Jamie Hall, General Motor’s Manager of Advanced Vehicle and Infrastructure Policy. “We encourage utilities and regulators to engage now to capture this opportunity.”

At the end of the forum, Chairman Talberg announced that to continue the conversation, Michigan will be opening a stakeholder comment period beginning today and running through through September 20. 

This Michigan event is a follow-up to previous AEE Institute forums on distribution system planning for Midwest commissioners in 2016 and for Midwest PUC staff in April.

About Advanced Energy Economy and AEE Institute

The Advanced Energy Economy Institute is a 501 (c)(3) charitable organization whose mission is to raise awareness of the public benefits and opportunities of advanced energy. AEE Institute provides critical data to drive the policy discussion on key issues through commissioned research and reports, data aggregation and analytic tools. AEE Institute also provides a forum where leaders can address energy challenges and opportunities facing the United States. AEE Institute is affiliated with Advanced Energy Economy (AEE), a 501(c)(6) business association, whose purpose is to advance and promote the common business interests of its members and the advanced energy industry as a whole. AEE and its State and Regional Partner organizations are active in 27 states across the country, representing more than 1,000 companies and organizations in the advanced energy industry. Visit AEE Institute at and AEE online at

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Topics: Press Releases