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In and outs of the political campaigns, focusing on Michigan and Lansing, Tim Skubick will report regularly throughout the primary and then general election campaigns.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Keep The Lights Burning

      Six months in the making, state lawmakers have created a new energy package that most certainly will be an issue in the fall campaign because it includes a hike in your monthly utility bill.
      The package is so complex that about the only folks who truly understand it are DTE and Consumers Energy and a handful of lawmakers who toiled long and hard to craft this package.
      "Its garbage," protests Rep. Jack Brandenburg from Macomb County. He does not like the fact that the two major utilities will be returned to a quasi monopoly status which means less competition according to the GOP lawmaker.  He figures that will mean higher utility costs and even though he owns almost a thousand shares in DTE, he voted no.
       Even the backers admit someone will have to pay the bill for constructing new utility plants to make sure when you flip the switch, the lights g o on. They contend its about a 9% boost on your monthly bill but quickly add, if the state did nothing, we'd have to import power from neighboring states and would be held hostage to whatever price they wanted to charge.
       As Speaker Andy Dillon puts it, the cost is going up; it's a question of how high.  "Citizens are hit with four dollars a gallon gas.  We don't want four dollar a gallon electricity," he argues.
       The issue is ripe for political exploitation and bet the farm that House GOP Leader Craig DeRoche will be right in there running commercials against democrats who voted yes on the package to raise your rates.
       Dillon says the Michigan Chamber of Commerce has told him it does not want this issue used for political gain.  Only problem is DeRoche is not a member.


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