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TRAVERSE CITY RECEIVES FAVORABLE RULING IN DISPUTE WITH CONSUMERS POWER

 LANSING, Mich., March 19 /PRNewswire/ -- The Michigan Municipal Cooperative Group (MMCG) announced that one of its members, Traverse City Light and Power, has received a favorable proposal for decision by an administrative law judge of the Michigan Public Service Commission in its complaint to prevent the state's largest utility company from illegally taking its customers.
 The proposal for decision by James E. Rigas, an administrative law judge (ALJ) with the Public Service Commission, came from a complaint that Traverse City Light and Power filed against Consumers Power Company in the fall of 1992. The ALJ's decision denies Consumers Power permission to provide electric service to Meijer, Inc., the Days Inn, Giants and Dunham's Sporting Goods, all of Traverse City. The case will go to the full commission later this year.
 "Traverse City Light and Power is extremely pleased that we won in this first of many steps to protect our right to serve our existing customers," said Chuck Fricke, executive director of Traverse City Light and Power.
 The customer-switching dispute began last fall when Traverse City saw three of its largest retail customers switch their electric service to Consumers Power Co. The three customers represent about 4 percent of the municipal utility's electric revenues. At the time, Traverse City Light and Power alleged that Consumers Power was engaged in "skimming off the cream" of its customers.
 "Direct payments and other inducements to entice the electric customer are the only way Consumers Power has been able to acquire existing municipal customers. Traverse City's electric rates are lower than Consumers Power and reliability of service is much better," said Gary L. Zimmerman, spokesman for the MMCG.
 "Payments, or what some people may consider pay-offs, do nothing to promote efficiency in the marketplace and may, in fact, be anti- competitive," Zimmerman said.
 Michigan regulations require utilities to obtain a "certificate of necessity and convenience" from the Michigan Public Service Commission, prior to providing electric service to an existing customer of another utility. The regulation's intent is to prevent electric ratepayers from having to fund needless duplication of facilities and resources by competing electric utilities.
 The MPSC decision says Consumers Power circumvented the certificate process and therefore ordered that electric service for the four customers in question be switched back to Traverse City Light and Power.
 Traverse City is one of 43 cities and villages in Michigan who own and operate their own electric utilities. Of these, 22 are in or near Consumers Power's territory, including Lansing, Grand Haven, Marshall, Holland, Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Charlevoix, Bay City, Zeeland, Coldwater, Sturgis, Hillsdale, Union City, Chelsea, Hart and others.
 -0- 3/19/93
 /CONTACT: Chuck Fricke, executive director, Traverse City Light and Power, 616-922-4470; or Gary Zimmerman or Michelle Smith of MMCG, 517-323-8919/
 (CMS)


CO: Michigan Municipal Cooperative Group; Consumers Power; Traverse
 City Light and Power ST: Michigan IN: UTI SU:


DH -- DE002 -- 7778 03/19/93 09:07 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Mar 19, 1993
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