Ann Arbor, Mich., Council Member To Make Proposal Related To Public Power Feasibility Study August 24, 2021

August 24, 2021

by Paul Ciampoli
APPA News Director
August 24, 2021

Ann Arbor, Mich., Council Member Elizabeth Nelson plans to introduce a resolution at an upcoming city council meeting that will ask the Ann Arbor Energy Commission to consider and vote on the question of a public power feasibility study for the city.

“The recent multi-day power outage has prompted a lot of conversation in our community about improving the reliability of our electricity and the city’s relationship with DTE, specifically,” wrote Nelson in a recent blog posted on her website.

“For some time now, many local leaders have advocated for a public municipal power utility, similar to what already exists in over forty municipalities in Michigan. Arguments in favor of a public utility include: reliability, sustainability, accountability, and affordability,” she wrote.

The city’s Energy Commission is close to concluding what has been many months of discussion about a public utility. In February, the Commission heard a presentation about public power, as well as advocacy from Michigan State Rep. Yousef Rabhi and State Sen. Jeff Irwin.

In July, the Energy Commission heard another presentation on the topic of a municipal utility, including legal advice about how to achieve it in the state of Michigan. At that meeting, the Commission was asked to recommend funding for a feasibility study.

“Because public utilities exist across Michigan, there is a lot that we know already in terms of how it would function in Ann Arbor,” wrote Nelson. “However, a feasibility study is the appropriate first step in exploring this option. There is significant support in the community for a public power utility, but it is also appropriate that Council receive advice from the Energy Commission regarding this feasibility study.”

Nelson said that she will have a resolution on the agenda for the next city council meeting on Sept. 7, 2021, that asks the Energy Commission to consider and vote on the question of a feasibility study.

She wants the Energy Commission vote to be taken at their next meeting on Sept. 14, so that the Ann Arbor City Council can receive their recommendation in time to vote on it at the council’s next meeting on Sept. 20.

Nelson said that a recommendation for a feasibility study does not bring immediate action, “but does push our efforts in a specific direction: establishing the parameters of the study and identifying the appropriate entity to do that study.”

The American Public Power Association offers a wide range of resources and information related to municipalization on its website.