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Michigan Community Action Agency Association: No reason to play favorites with energy rates

MCAAA

On the other hand, deregulating the rates in favor of a small subset of customers – at the expense of those low-income Michiganders who cannot afford to be left behind – is not the type of common-sense business strategy that will help families that are struggling to pay their bills.

by Frank Taylor, Interim Executive Director, Michigan Community Action Agency Association

The Michigan Community Action Agency Association is the state association of 29 community action agencies that provide programs and services in order to help low-income individuals and families achieve greater economic self-sufficiency and stability. Its mission is to provide leadership, information, and advocacy to facilitate institutional change directed toward the alleviation of the causes of poverty.

As one of the leading advocates for energy efficiency assistance for Michigan’s low-income households, the Community Action Agency Association – thanks to the federal Weatherization Assistance Program and its partnerships with many of the state’s utility companies – provides a variety of resources to help qualified households reduce their energy use and lower their utility bills. Some of the services and improvements include the following:

•.    Home energy audits
•.    Wall and attic insulation
•.    Furnaces, refrigerators and water heaters
•.    Programmable thermostats
•.    Compact fluorescent light bulbs
•.    Window and door repairs

Depending on available funding, CAAs might also be able to help households that are behind in their utility bills. Many sponsor “Walk for Warmth” or similar fundraisers to help neighbors pay for heat and other necessities. MCAAA also intervenes on behalf of low-income customers in utility rate cases through the Michigan Public Service Commission.

The state of Michigan’s energy policy is important to us because we’re all about rate stability and affordability, and what that means for the hard-working people whom we serve. In a recently conducted poll of nearly 900 registered voters, almost 60 percent said keeping the price of electricity predictable and affordable should be a top priority.

On the other hand, deregulating the rates in favor of a small subset of customers – at the expense of those low-income Michiganders who cannot afford to be left behind – is not the type of common-sense business strategy that will help families that are struggling to pay their bills.

When studying the current energy policy and ultimately deciding on the most equitable course of action, Michigan lawmakers need to keep in mind the best rates for everyone and not just a select few. They need to be stable, affordable and available to all; without playing favorites.

Frank Taylor is the interim executive director of the Michigan Community Action Agency Association.