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Michigan Public Service Commission considers debt forgiveness for some utility customers


The Michigan Public Service Commission is accepting public comment on how energy utilities should respond to the coronavirus.

One group is recommending residents receive some kind of debt forgiveness.

In their comments the Citizens Utility Board of Michigan, which advocates for utility customers, argued that residents should receive some kind of forgiveness - paid for by the utility.

Board president Robert Nelson said people who struggle to pay should have at least part of their bills covered.

“You can suspend shut offs and that’s a good thing to do,” he said. “But eventually the customer is going to continue being billed for that service and it gets out of hand quickly.”

A spokesperson for Consumers Energy said they have suspended shutoffs through June 1st.

They said they are continuing to work with state and nonprofit organizations to help their most vulnerable customers, including through payment plans.

Nelson said other states have offered debt forgiveness of up to $200.

“I’m not saying that has to be the amount. It could be higher given the pandemic. But it should be at least $200.”