MI-MAUI was founded in 2018 in response to escalating demand for municipalities and other public organizations to address costs and impacts related to energy and other utility-provided services. Energy costs are among the biggest operating line items for many public agencies, and reducing them can not only save money but in many cases also improve delivery of municipal services. In addition, local governments and public agencies are increasingly adopting energy goals intended to combat climate change, improve resiliency of government operations and the broader community, and support economic and community development objectives. Their ability to achieve all these objectives is constrained by rates and rules approved by the Michigan Public Service Commission, and by programs, policies and practices of investor-owned utilities.
The idea for MI-MAUI arose in 2017 after 25 southeast Michigan municipalities intervened in DTE electric rate cases that would have significantly reduced the financial savings municipalities realize by investing in LED street lighting. After persuading the Michigan Public Service Commission to set aside DTE’s initial rate proposal, the municipalities worked collaboratively with DTE representatives to craft a consensus tariff proposal that not only set agreed rates but addressed a broader range of lighting issues. The experience demonstrated that municipalities can effectively take part in MPSC processes, but even more important, that given expert support and alignment they can work directly with utilities to proactively address needs.