The local municipal utility's board voted to opt out of the mandate.
Public Act 95 was signed into law July 1 by Gov. Rick Snyder, and requires a surcharge be placed on all electric bills as set by the Michigan Public Service Commission to fund a low-income home heating assistance program. The surcharge has a cap of $1 per meter per month.
Utilities are allowed the option to opt out of the program, but doing so places limits on when the utility can shut service off to its nonpaying customers.
“I am always uncomfortable when our Legislature implements measures that remove local control of our electric utility from our elected Board of Directors,” BLP General Manager Annette Allen said. “The Board of Light & Power established a Helping Hands program many years ago, which assists families in our local community who are in need and unable to pay their utility bills.”
Allen said the local utility funds its Helping Hands program by donating a portion of the money collected from its door tag disconnect notice program and through voluntary customer donations.
“Our local program is implemented through The Salvation Army, with 100 percent of the money being distributed to families in need in our community,” Allen said.
According to BLP officials, Public Act 95 doesn’t guarantee money collected will come back to the community. The law provides for surcharges to be directed to the region, and it is not clear what the region is for the Grand Haven area.
To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.