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Friday, May 17, 2013

Shareholders Call on CMS Energy to Invest in Renewables at Annual Shareholder Meeting

Shareholders question CMS plans for continued reliance on dirty energy

May 17, 2013 - JACKSON – CMS Energy executives faced questions from shareholders Friday morning at their annual general meeting for shareholders about the company’s plans to continue investing in fossil fuel electric generation, like coal and natural gas, over renewable energy and energy efficiency.

“CMS Energy has an opportunity to be not just a true energy leader, but also more profitable down the road so it can continue creating Michigan jobs and providing Michigan energy to families and businesses,”   said Debra Rowe, a CMS Energy shareholder from Farmington Hills. “It is time that CMS Energy expand their use of new, clean energy sources like solar and wind, not only for the health and safety of our communities but for a return on investment.”

CMS Energy has met it’s renewable energy goal and has lowered their renewable energy surcharge to customerrs further, as a result of lower than expected costs for renewable energy.  The company also exceeded its energy efficiency goals and has been awarded performance incentive payments by the Michigan Public Service Commission, but continues to limit its investment to the bare minimum required by law.

Shareholders are paying a heavy price as a consequence of CMS’ dependence on dirty energy. Michigan residents shouldn’t have to shoulder the burden of the utility’s risky business decisions,” said Frank Zaski, a CMS shareholder from Franklin.  “Instead of investing in aging infrastructure to continue to burn dirty coal and build a new natural gas plant, CMS has the opportunity to earn returns on large capital investments in clean renewable energy, unleashing innovation and creating thousands of jobs for Michigan workers in new industries.”

CMS has been debating mothballing seven old coal units at the Cobb, Whiting and Karn Weadock plants in 2015, but recently requested an extension for 2016.   The company has also been making costly updates at its other coal plants to continue to keep them running and plans to build a new 700 megawatt natural gas plant in Thetford, Michigan.

“It makes financial sense for CMS to continue to transition away from dirty coal and natural gas and start getting serious about clean energy and energy efficiency investments,” continued Rowe.   “The company’s poor environmental performance and continuing investment in coal are putting shareholder value at risk.”

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), electric rates in Michigan are higher than in 38 other states and are among the highest in the country. Michigan rates were up eight percent last year, compared to rates across the country that were up one percent. By transitioning away from expensive, dirty coal to renewable sources like wind and solar power and by maximizing energy efficiency, CMS could save shareholders money.  

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Clean Energy Now is a collaboration of nearly 50 non-profit organizations in Michigan working to move our state toward a clean energy future.

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