Panelists to discuss idea for community-owned, clean-energy grid in Ann Arbor

ANN ARBOR, MI — Supporters of forming a municipal electric utility to replace DTE Energy as Ann Arbor’s power provider are inviting the public to learn more about the idea.

Ann Arbor for Public Power is hosting a Zoom round table from 7-9 pm Thursday, Feb 17.

Panelists include:

  • Chris Bzdok, environmental lawyer and former Traverse City mayor
  • Michelle Deatrick, Democratic National Committee Council on Environment and Climate Crisis chair
  • State Sen. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor
  • Sean McBrearty, Clean Water Action Policy Director
  • State Rep. Yousef Rabhi, D-Ann Arbor
  • Liz Ratzloff, Huron Valley Area Labor Federation representative
  • Desirae Simmons, Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice co-director

The discussion is billed as an opportunity to learn about and support a community-owned, resilient, clean-energy grid and ask questions of the speakers.

Register here.

City Council OK’d a resolution last month directing the city administrator to put together a request for proposals from consultants to study the technical, legal and financial viability of multiple potential pathways the city could take to meet its A2Zero goals to make the community carbon- neutral by 2030.

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That includes studying the feasibility of creating a traditional municipal electric utility to replace DTE as the local energy provider — estimating the costs to the city to acquire DTE’s power infrastructure and the ongoing costs to maintain it, an engineering assessment of the infrastructure, estimates of revenues and debts the city would take on and costs to purchase 100% renewable energy to replace DTE’s coal and gas power sources, and a rate analysis to see how that could work out for customers compared to DTE rates.

As an alternative to a total takeover of the DTE power grid, the council is simultaneously asking city staff to further explore the creation of a municipal sustainable energy utility that could supplement DTE Energy service in the city without spending large sums of money to acquire DTE’s infrastructure and instead invest money directly into geothermal systems and solar microgrids to power neighborhoods.

That model is known as an SEU, which the city has already determined is feasible. Council now wants staff to develop and propose a governance and staffing model for it, do more public outreach, conduct a rate analysis, initiate technical studies for solar microgrids and draft an ordinance to create an SEU.

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