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CONSUMERS POWER ORDERED TO STOP PROPOSAL C CONTRIBUTIONS

 CONSUMERS POWER ORDERED TO STOP PROPOSAL C CONTRIBUTIONS
 LANSING, Mich., Oct. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Consumers Power Company


today was ordered by a Wayne County Circuit judge to stop making political contributions to help the Proposal C campaign.
 The order, second in a week by Judge Louis F. Simmons Jr. against a public utility, prohibits Consumers from making any further contributions to help finance the campaign of Proposal C, the so-called Cut & Cap proposal.
 The injunction was granted on the complaint of six Consumers Power customers who object to the utility using their rate payments to finance a political cause they do not believe in and which would benefit only big corporations, said James W. Burdick, attorney for the customers.
 Burdick said his clients objected to the utilities' support for Proposal C because -- if the ballot question passes Nov. 3 -- it would shift costs of government from big business to middle-class citizens.
 Burdick was successful last week in obtaining a similar order prohibiting Detroit Edison from making such political contributions with customer funds.
 Consumers Power had contributed $75,000 to the committee promoting the Proposal C ballot question, Burdick said.
 The use of ratepayer money for political causes or candidates was specifically prohibited in 1985 by the Michigan Public Service Commission. Despite that ruling, Detroit Edison had also contributed $75,000 to the Proposal C ballot committee before last week's court injunction.
 The utilities contend that they are not really using ratepayer money, but rather stockholder money, said Burdick, although the PSC ruling effectively said that all the money generated by the utilities through rates approved by the commission constitute ratepayer money, no matter how it is later characterized for accounting purposes.
 The Consumers customers said it is unconstitutional for a company, which is a state-sponsored monopoly, to compel its ratepayers to contribute to political causes promoted by the monopoly's management.
 "Michigan law does not give Consumers Power customers the right to buy their electricity or gas somewhere else if they object to Consumers' politics," said Burdick. "The law should not require them indirectly to contribute to political causes they oppose."
 -0- 10/22/92 R
 /CONTACT: James W. Burdick of Hertz, Schram & Saretsky, P.C., 313-335-5000/ CO: Consumers Power ST: Michigan IN: UTI SU:


KD -- DE022 -- 4405 10/23/92 18:13 EDT
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Date:Oct 23, 1992
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