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Opinion | Gov. Whitmer must protect against rising energy prices

During this holiday shopping season, Michiganders are facing skyrocketing prices on nearly everything we buy, from gasoline to chicken tenders to furniture. The joy of giving for many will undoubtedly come with the stress of knowing the hit on our credit cards and bank accounts.

John Dulmes
John Dulmes is executive director of the Michigan Chemistry Council, which represents chemical manufacturers and distributors across the state. (Courtesy photo)

In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, the annual rate of inflation in the United States reached  a whopping 6.2 percent in October. That is the highest rate in more than 30 years, as measured by the Consumer Price Index. Businesses, too, are facing cost increases for many key inputs – a crunch that gets passed on in the form of higher prices or tighter payrolls.

One of the most basic necessities for all is energy, and Michiganders unfortunately continue to pay some of the highest electricity costs in the Midwest. Recent news reports have highlighted our state’s unaffordable and uncompetitive electricity rates, and those electric bills could become even more expensive because of legislation recently passed here in Michigan. The good news is that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is positioned to protect against these rising costs.

Under Senate Bill 103, a federal requirement for competitive bidding on major energy infrastructure projects would be eliminated. That means when many of Michigan’s massive electric transmission lines are replaced or newly built, only one company would be allowed to build & operate them in most instances.

You don’t need to be an economics major to understand that eliminating competition in the economy by creating a monopoly usually results in higher prices. That is what would likely happen to the electric bills of residential and businesses customers under Senate Bill 103, and during one of the worst stretches of inflation in decades.

Luckily, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer can do something today to end the prospect of higher utility bills for families and job creators alike. She can veto Senate Bill 103 and send it back to the drawing board to insist upon greater protection for ratepayers. This is an issue that deserves more study and public discussion than it has received thus far.   

The future of Michigan’s energy grid is one of the most important issues facing our economy, because households and businesses are equally dependent on reliable, sustainable, and affordable energy supplies. We need to find ways to improve it and ensure it continues providing a stable supply of power. But, like with any other industry, eliminating competition in the rebuilding of the grid is simply not the answer.

We strongly encourage Gov. Whitmer to veto Senate Bill 103 and ask the legislature to continue developing policies that will ensure an affordable energy future for all of us.

Bridge welcomes guest columns from a diverse range of people on issues relating to Michigan and its future. The views and assertions of these writers do not necessarily reflect those of Bridge or The Center for Michigan. Bridge does not endorse any individual guest commentary submission. If you are interested in submitting a guest commentary, please contact Ron French. Click here for details and submission guidelines.

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