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“In December, Gov. Snyder signed some very important energy legislation that not only represented a paradigm in what compromise can accomplish, but seems to have been very well received by virtually all parties involved, from the utilities to environmental groups,” says Greening of the Great Lakes host Kirk Heinze. He welcomes Michigan Public Service Commission chair Sally Talberg to the show.

The commission provides regulatory oversight of Michigan’s utilities to ensure safe and reliable energy and telecommunications services at reasonable prices.

Talberg says “across the board, the new energy legislation was a good final product that’s going to position us to be successful in the future.”

She says the legislation continues the progress Michigan has made on reducing energy waste. And it addresses some of the barriers to pursuing additional investments in energy waste reduction.

And the legislation raises the state’s renewable portfolio standard so that 15 percent of the state’s energy must come from renewable sources by 2021.

Talberg explains what net metering is. It allows residential and commercial customers who generate their own electricity from solar power to feed electricity they do not use back into the grid.

Many states have passed net metering laws. In other states, utilities may offer net metering programs voluntarily or as a result of regulatory decisions. Differences between states’ legislation and implementation mean that the benefits of net metering can vary widely for solar customers in different areas of the country.

Talberg says 2-1-1, the abbreviated phone number that connects people with information and resources, is now available throughout Michigan. Whether it’s information on who to contact for energy assistance or vital information during a crisis like the propane shortage or ice storm a few years ago, more and more people are relying on 2-1-1.

She tells how the MPSC has approved a settlement agreement, with additional conditions, that permits the creation of a new Michigan-only jurisdictional utility in the Upper Peninsula.

“The Commission expects that the creation of the Michigan-based utility will enable some 35,000 electric and 5,000 gas customers in the Upper Peninsula to have access to affordable, reliable and safe energy,” Talberg says.

The commission is continuing its work to expand broadband access to more parts of the state, and much of its focus in 2017 will be focused on implementing the new energy legislation.

Greening of the Great Lakes airs every Sunday evening at 7:00 on News/Talk 760 WJR and around the state each weekend via the Michigan Talk Network.

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