Residential electric bills may be about to rise a bit in Michigan. A recent recommendation from an administrative court judge could lead to traditional utility bills going up and residential solar panels becoming a more appealing option. The case is still ongoing and includes a few different moving pieces, but here’s a rundown of its likely effects and what you need to know in order to keep your monthly energy costs as manageable as possible.
What You Need to Know About the Rejection of DTE’s Solar Access Fee
Last month, a Michigan administrative court judge decided in favor of DTE’s $328 million rate case. But the ruling came with a couple of exceptions, including a rejection of the company’s solar access fee. These recommendations were made to the state’s Public Service Commission, which will eventually have the final say in the matter. A decision is expected in May.
Basically, this means that monthly rates for electricity are expected to go up shortly. DTE requested to raise its overall rate by $328 million, which includes provisions for a couple of special programs like an electric vehicle charging station initiative.
With this price increase, the average home electric bill would go up by about 9 percent, with commercial and government facility bills going up by about 4.5 percent. These increases may seem fairly minor at first, but the cost can easily add up over time and lead to a much more significant energy expenditure over the course of several years.
But the judge’s recommendation also rejected DTE’s proposed solar access fee. This means that there will likely be no additional fees added for those using solar power who also want to access the electrical grid. Staying connected to the power grid even when you have solar panels installed allows you to continue using energy even during times when the panels cannot access enough rays to fully power your home. So essentially, the costs for those using solar energy will not be going up in the same way that rates for traditional energy are expected to.
Why Electric Bill Costs Are Rising
So why exactly are electric bills expected to go up? When DTE initially proposed the increase last summer, it said that it would help the company cover the cost of improvements to its distribution and generation systems. The proposal also includes a new electric vehicle charging station initiative, which is expected to cost $13 and be the largest pilot program of its kind in the midwest.
Over time, utility costs naturally go up due to inflation, increasing business costs, and new initiatives. So increases like this are not uncommon or unexpected. This is a fairly sizeable increase for Michigan homeowners, which already has one of the higher electricity rates in the country. So this change may cause some to take steps to limit their use of electricity wherever possible.
What You Can Do to Save Money on Your Electric Bill
The best way to save money on your electric bill, even with rising consumer prices, is to cut down on your traditional energy usage. Aside from just using less power in your home, you could opt for a more renewable source of energy, like solar power.
Solar power is accessible to nearly any homeowner who has access to sunlight. Even in Michigan winters, there’s usually enough solar energy to power most, if not all, of a home’s necessities. There is a decent investment involved with getting started, but you can often offset some of that cost with tax credits, grants, and low interest loans designed to incentivize solar panel adoption.
Once you have solar panels installed, you can dramatically cut down on your traditional energy use or even eliminate it altogether, depending on your home’s output and the type of panels that you opt for. Over time, the savings you realize on your monthly energy bill should more than cover the initial cost of purchase and installation.
Why Solar Power is Paving the Way Toward a Cleaner, Greener Future
Solar power essentially makes homeowners and property owners less affected by the volatilities of traditional utility prices. The more people who start taking advantage of solar power, the more affordable and possible it becomes for others to do so as well. Then the population as a whole is less reliant on those major utility providers and the non-renewable energy sources they provide.
Solar panels last for about 25 years and only require sunlight to operate. You don’t need access to tons of electricity or natural gas. This means you reduce your home’s carbon footprint significantly and help to slow down the depletion of finite natural resources.
As far as this latest court decision is concerned, there’s still some time before the final say is made. The Michigan Public Service Commission will take the judge’s recommendations into account, along with other evidence and findings from the case. However, if the commission upholds what the judge has recommended, it could provide yet another incentive for more Michigan homeowners to take advantage of the benefits of clean solar energy and stop relying so heavily on traditional utilities.
If you want to stabilize your home’s energy costs and take advantage of new, renewable energy sources, The Green Panel can help. We’ve been providing expert solar panel installation services across the entire state of Michigan for more than a decade. Our team is well versed in the trends of the industry and the energy options available to Michigan homeowners. We’ll work with you to create a customized solution that’s completely tailored to the needs of your home and your family, while ensuring that the initial cost is manageable. To get started with this powerful renewable energy source, contact us for a free solar evaluation today. We’ll come out and take a look at your property and discuss your options with you so you can make the best possible decision for your family and energy budget.