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CONSUMERS POWER TRYING TO TAKE OVER COMPETITORS, SAYS MICHIGAN MUNICIPAL COOPERATIVE GROUP

 LANSING, Mich., Feb. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- The following was released by the Michigan Municipal Cooperative Group:
 The Michigan Municipal Cooperative Group (MMCG) announced that the City of Marshall, one of its members, has filed suit to prevent Consumers Power from illegally taking customers away from the City's electric utility. Said MMCG Steering Committee Chair Joe Wolfe of Lansing, "This is another attempt by Consumers Power to destroy competition by putting out of business the smaller utilities who compete with it."
 The customer in question is Rempe Finishing Equipment, located on the outskirts of Marshall. It is the third customer Consumers Power has attempted to take from Marshall in as many years. The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) has ruled that both prior attempts were illegal. Marshall has filed suit at the MPSC and is seeking a court injunction to block the takeover of this customer or of any other customers by Consumers Power.
 Said Wolfe, "When you look at Consumers Power's stated goals and their actions, it is clear they are trying to take over the municipally owned electric utilities in Michigan by taking their customers until it drives them out of business. This is illegal and destroys competition. It also builds electric load so Consumers Power can buy more high-priced power from its Midland Cogeneration Venture affiliate." Wolfe cited the following actions:
 -- Consumers Power's Chairman, Bill McCormick, said two years ago that its goals for the 1990s include "selective acquisitions of smaller, less efficient utilities in Michigan." McCormick has repeated this statement, including in testimony before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
 -- Last summer Consumers Power adopted a written policy allowing it to pay cash (or provide free goods and services) to customers to get them to switch from a municipally owned electric utility to Consumers Power. The policy only applies to customers of municipally owned electric utilities! It has never been submitted to the MPSC for approval, even though Michigan law requires all such rates and policies to be approved by the MPSC in advance.
 -- Using this policy, since October Consumers Power has taken customers representing 4 percent of the revenues of Traverse City's electric utility, and is taking more customers every month, even though the City's rates are lower than those of Consumers.
 -- Consumers Power is disobeying MPSC orders in taking customers from city utilities -- the MPSC has ruled twice that it is illegal for Consumers to do so without MPSC approval in advance.
 Said Wolfe, "In the 1970s, similar actions by Consumers Power to destroy competition led to a Federal antitrust action against Consumers Power by the U.S. Justice Department and all the small utilities in Michigan. Consumers Power settled the matter after a ruling on appeal in our favor. Consumers Power is now violating the terms of that antitrust settlement which may force relitigation of these matters."
 Alan Richardson, Assistant Executive Director for the American Public Power Association (the association for municipally owned utilities nationwide), said, "Consumers Power is clearly trying to drive its municipal competitors out of business. If it succeeds in destroying competition, Consumers Power will have a free hand to drive up rates. The MPSC and the State of Michigan should act immediately to stop this outrageous conduct which harms the public interest."
 Forty-three cities and villages in Michigan own and operate their own electric utilities, which serve over 670,000 people. Of these, 22 are in or near Consumers Power's territory, including Lansing, Grand Haven, Marshall, Holland, Traverse City, Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Charlevoix, Lowell, Zeeland, Hart, Coldwater, Sturgis, Hillsdale, Union City, Bay City, Chelsea and others.
 -0- 2/1/93
 /CONTACT: Michelle Smith of MMCG, 517-323-8919; Terry Smith of the City of Marshall, 616-781-3967; Chuck Fricke of Traverse City, 616-922-4471; or Alan Richardson of APPA, 202-467-2904/
 (CMS)


CO: Michigan Municipal Cooperative Group; Consumers Power;
 CMS Energy Corporation ST: Michigan IN: UTI OIL SU:


JG-KS -- DE019 -- 1374 02/01/93 12:23 EST
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Date:Feb 1, 1993
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