Viking Energy Of McBain Worried After PURPA Act Changes


Small, renewable power operations are now concerned after some big changes to Michigan’s Public Utility Regulatory Power Act.

This law has required large utility providers like Consumers Energy to purchase power from small renewable generators.

Now the Michigan Public Service Commission is lowering the rate that energy is sold at by 40 percent.

Companies like Viking Energy in McBain are scared.

“The utilities have continued to be on a lock on power generators unless they are compelled to purchase the power. So they have a must purchase obligation for small renewable generators like us so that operations still exists today,” says Thomas Vine, plant manager at Viking Energy.

But this law has now changed.

Viking Energy relies completely on Consumers Energy to buy their power.

“They have said numerous times that the rate payers are subsidizing us, which they have subsidized us some $300 million over the last 10 years and that’s just not true. We’re paid based on the actual cost to operate Consumers Energy’s actual fleet of coal plants and consumers actually calculated those numbers for us,” says Vine.

Vikings Energy says now they’re going to be paid 40 percent less than before.

“The rates that came out through the ruling last Tuesday aren’t high enough to even sustain our operation and I’m really concerned about the impact on the small community around here,” says Vine.

When we asked Consumers Energy about the change, they issued this statement saying “The federal law at the center of the PURPA discussion was established to address a national energy crisis nearly 40 years ago, since then the market has changed drastically and adjustments were needed to best meet the energy demands of today’s customers.”

“If things stay the way they are, I don’t see us being able to continue to operate the plant,” say Vine.

Viking Energy does plan to appeal the ruling.