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Michigan Energy Bill Surcharge to Help Less Fortunate Goes Into Effect

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Last month, Michigan lawmakers approved a measure that will add a surcharge to residents’ energy bills, from which the funds will go to assist the poor. Find out when it will show up on your energy bill here.

In mid-June, lawmakers unanimously (34-4) approved a bill that almost forces Michigan energy companies into adding a maximum $1 surcharge to everyone’s energy bill in order to cover the cost of those who are having difficulty covering their own monthly bill. The energy companies can opt-out of adding the surcharge, but would then be prevented from shutting off anyone’s power due to non-payment between the November 1st and April 15th. Guess which way most companies are going: Make us pay extra or potentially lose money… easy choice, huh?

Michigan Public Service Commission says only a few companies have opted out of the soon-to-be-implemented surcharge, so that means “get ready to pay extra” for most of us. According to NBC 25, most of us will begin seeing the charges reflected in our September bill.

Note: The article from this point forward is opinion, so if you don’t want to read it — get the Hell out!

I am all for helping the poor and what not. There was a time in my life when I was on assistance and it helped me get where I am today — so I am the last person that will argue the validity of such programs. Here’s what I don’t understand about this particular surcharge though — there are already programs in place, funded by our tax dollars, to cover people who are having difficulty paying their utilities. So why would lawmakers allow energy companies to “pass the (quite literal) buck” onto us?

Isn’t an understood part of any business model the “risk vs. reward” factor? You take some chances and you either profit or you lose money. I don’t think it’s fair that we should be held accountable for covering an energy company’s potential loss, regardless of the fact that it only costs (up to) $1 a month. I also don’t believe they should be able to cut off your heat in the winter — an opinion that became quite popular following the 2009 incident where 93-year old Bay City man died from Hypothermia when his power was turned off.

Now, I don’t know how they can both keep delinquent bill payers’ power on through the winter and cover the expense of that without this new surcharge and, honestly, I don’t care. If I did have the answers, perhaps I would have gotten into the field of supplying energy for others. The fact of the matter is that this is their problem to solve — not ours. I (and I’m sure you’re with me on this) pay quite enough for my monthly energy usage as is. Once we open the door to this type of an “insurance policy” for companies that are already doing quite well, where will it end? It’s a scary question with even scarier answers.

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