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UTILITIES REQUEST ANTITRUST REVIEW OF CONSUMERS POWER

 UTILITIES REQUEST ANTITRUST REVIEW OF CONSUMERS POWER
 WASHINGTON, D.C., Nov. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- The Michigan Municipal


Cooperative Group today released the following:
 The Michigan Municipal Cooperative Group (MMCG) today asked the Federal Court of Appeals in Washington to order agency hearings on alleged antitrust violations by Consumers Power Company.
 The request was made in briefs filed in appeals of Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) orders involving $900 million in short-term borrowing by Consumers Power and Consumers' proposed sale of its Palisades Nuclear Plant to a sister company. In these orders, FERC refused to consider antitrust challenges raised by MMCG.
 MMCG Steering Committee Chairman Joe Wolfe said that the appeal has major national and state implications. "The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that FERC must take antitrust considerations into account in its orders, such as approving the $900 million in borrowings at issue here," Wolfe said. "But this ruling has been repeatedly ignored by FERC. We're asking the courts to tell FERC that the Supreme Court meant what it said and to order FERC to investigate the antitrust effects of Consumers Power's proposals. This could help promote competition in the electric industry nationwide by remedying monopoly control over transmission lines."
 The appeal could have a major impact on Michigan, said Wolfe, who also serves as assistant general manager of the Lansing Board of Water & Light.
 "We specifically asked FERC to consider the antitrust issues involved in 'self-dealing' cases such as these where Consumers Power is attempting to buy electricity from its affiliates at inflated prices," Wolfe said. "We believe the excess charges to Michigan citizens are over $8 billion, which is enough to give free electricity to all Consumers' customers for over four years." MMCG claims that Consumers Power has illegally used its control of high-voltage electric transmission lines to exclude cheaper competitors who would underprice its affiliates and to prevent other utilities from buying from less expensive sources.
 "Consumers has used its monopoly control of the transmission lines to prevent our utilities from having fair access to the lines," Wolfe said. "With fair access we could bypass Consumers Power, obtain cheaper electricity from other sources and not pay the artificially high prices created by its self-dealing."
 Several of the FERC orders being appealed involve Consumers Power's plan to sell its Palisades Nuclear Plant and related transmission lines to a sister company and then buy back all the electricity from the plant at artificially high prices. The high prices will be passed on to Consumers Power's customers, including MMCG utilities which purchase electricity from Consumers Power.
 "Consumers Power has set up this transaction so that it pays its sister company a bonus if the Palisades Plant operates more than 55 percent of the time. But the industry average is 65 percent and good plants reach the mid-70's (percent). This is just a ruse to take billions of dollars extra from Michigan citizens to line the pockets of CMS Energy," Wolfe said.
 Another FERC order being appealed approved Consumers Power's application for $900 million in short-term borrowing. U.S. Supreme Court cases direct FERC to determine whether such borrowings might be used to violate the antitrust laws.
 MMCG specifically alleged that Consumers Power will use the funds to strengthen its monopoly control over the state's transmission lines to the detriment of true competition and MMCG members. MMCG also pointed out that the borrowing was unnecessary if Consumers Power would stop transferring funds to its parent company, CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), in violation of Michigan Public Service Commission orders.
 MMCG is made up of municipal and cooperative utilities which serve more than 1 million people with electricity. MMCG member utilities have two general goals: To assure fair prices on the electricity Consumers Power buys from its Midland Cogeneration Venture and Palisades Generating Company affiliates and to assure fair access to Michigan's transmission lines.
 -0- 11/19/91
 /CONTACT: Joseph Wolfe, 517-371-6030, or Raymond Towne, 616-775-5700, both of the Michigan Municipal Cooperative Group/
 (CMS) CO: Michigan Municipal Cooperative Group; Consumers Power Company;
 CMS Energy Corporation ST: Michigan, District of Columbia IN: UTI SU: JG -- DE025 -- 5055 11/19/91 15:05 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 19, 1991
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