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The Michigan Air Conditioning Contractors Association (MIACCA) on behalf its mechanical contractor members, whom for decades have competed against utility appliance service plans (ASP), submits the following comments as requested by the Michigan Public Service Commission (Commission) in its September 26, 2019 Order in Case No. U-18361. Specifically the Commission requested comments on 4 issues, stated below along with the MIACCA comment:
1) Data Security/Privacy: Utilities are required to comply with all data privacy tariffs. Rule 9(1). A customer list may only include the name and address of a customer. Rule 9(2). Does a customer list require the heightened security discussed by the utilities? Customer consumption and billing information requires prior written customer approval in order to be shared. Rule 9(4). In light of the prior written approval requirement, does this information require the heightened security discussed by the utilities? Are there instances where a utility should routinely require an affiliate or VAPS to acquire the requested information from a third party? Alternatively, should the Commission consider amending the rules to allow no information sharing beyond the requirement of MCL 460.10ee(10)(a) for the sharing of customer lists?
MIACCA Comment: Given that with MCL 460.10ee(10)(a) the Legislature specifically provided for the utilities to make available the customer list without any regards to data privacy tariffs the Commission should not impose or allow the utility to impose any further restriction to obtaining the customer list on a provider of a similar program or service. The customer mailing list is not information that warrants additional data privacy tariff concerns. Utility customer consumption, billing and other information is not specifically authorized by MCL 460.10ee to be shared by the utility with its affiliate or VAPS provider as that is preferential treatment and unauthorized information sharing beyond MCL 460.10ee; therefore such sharing of information other than customer mailing list must be prohibited by the Commission from being shared by the utility with its affiliate or VAPS provider in order to uphold the letter and intent of MCL 460.10ee(1) and (6)(c). The Commission must amend its rules to prohibit information sharing beyond the requirement of MCL 460.10ee(10)(a) for the sharing of customer mailing lists. If an utility does not want to expose itself to potential data privacy issues from providing the customer list pursuant to MCL 460.10ee(10)(a) then the utility should choose not to offer the voluntary VAPS. Because of the potential for utility information sharing abuse or claimed oversight by the utility for its affiliates or VAPS provider’s benefit, all sharing requests for the list of customers from any affiliate, VAPS provider or competitor must go through the MPSC website. This would help ensure that only the customer list is being provided by the utility along with being timely provided to competitors as required.
2) Timing of Response: MCL 460.10ee(10)(a) allows 5 business days for the provision of customer lists. Should this standard be adopted for all information sharing responses? This would become the meaning of "contemporaneously" under Rule 9(3), (5), and (6).
MIACCA Comment: Yes, 5 business days should be adopted by the Commission for the meaning of “contemporaneously”.
3) Same Terms and Conditions: Rule 9(3), (5), and (6) require the "same form and manner" for information sharing. Does this mean provision of the identical information?
MIACCA Comment: Yes the utility must provide the information in a nondiscriminatory basis, MCL 460.10ee(10)(a), to the extent that the information provided by the utility is in a standard free market format that a competitor can readily use and not in an utility format that requires expensive and or specialized software to access. The Code of Conduct must include measures to prevent preferential treatment by the utility to its affiliate and or VAPS provider, MCL 460.10ee(1).
4) Competitor versus Non-Competitor: How should the requesting party establish that it is a current or potential/new competitor of the party that received the shared information?
MIACCA Comment: The Commission should require the requester to self-certify that they are representative of a provider of a similar program or service or potential provider. Utilities have the option of giving notice or its intent to offer VAPS and thereby exploring the feasibility of such; potential competitors should also be given the opportunity to obtain the information and do its own feasibility analysis. Furthermore the burden of proof must remain with the utility if the utility wants to challenge this certification as it the utility that is subject to penalties and costs for violations, MCL 460.10ee(14).
On October 22, 2019 MIACCA sat down with Mike Byrn, COO of the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) and his staff to follow up with his presentation at our Annual Meeting regarding the VAPS program. We discussed what future MPSC staff goals are to handle the annual VAPS and the review process. They had learned a lot going through this first process and appreciated our input on how to streamline things in the future. They will be putting procedures in place to discuss with the commission about implementing. Although there is nothing that says a company cannot file their annual reports confidential, those filed confidential are going to raise a red flag with staff and prompt scrutiny moving forward.
We discussed the change in the postage allocation going from 10.4 cents per envelope to having no allocation method with the new code of conduct change. As the MPSC works through the discovery process, they will determine if an allocation method is needed and are open to suggestions on said methods.
We brought up our concerns about database sharing. For example, utilities have the ability to know what type of wattage is used and what age a home is, thus gaining an unfair advantage to contractors and marketing. We are hoping that any such database would be provided to the public and not deemed private.
The MPSC was very open into answering our questions and are taking steps to integrate our suggestions to propose to the commission for approval. We look forward to a continued working relationship with the MPSC.
November 2, 2019- Grand Rapids
Please provide this flyer to your techs!
PROVIDING HEATING ASSISTANCE TO THOSE IN NEED
15 Point Furnace Check
With Old Man Winter on his way, it is time to think about all of those who may not have the means for a furnace inspection, and worse yet, do not have the means to afford the repairs. Many may be destined with a forecast of cold weather outside and inside their own homes.
The good news is we can help!
This event is to provide goodwill to those in need in our communities & to promote quality contractors and their employees. Also, this event gives contractors the opportunity to have HVACR students accompany them to gain your knowledge and expertise as they prepare for their careers in our industry. They also get to participate in the spirit of giving back.
If your organization is interested in participating in Grand Rapids, or has a low income project they would like to provide service to, themselves, anywhere in the state, please contact Executive Director M.J. D'Smith at 517-285-2420 or firstname.lastname@example.org We are also looking for additional homes in Grand Rapids, if you might know of any.
The event will start at 8:30 a.m. at Schaafsma Heating and Cooling with coffee and doughnuts. We understand that you and your techs will be sacrificing a couple of hours on a Saturday, but you will be making a difference for those in need all through the heating season! For your generous participation in this event, MIACCA will hold an Appreciation Dinner the following week or so honoring those who participate. Your organization will also be recognized on our website and email blasts.
Make a Difference!! We look forward to hearing from you soon!
A BIG "Thank You" to our member JOHNSTONE SUPPLY MUSKEGON GROUP for sponsoring this event by graciously supplying parts.
MPSC working to make access to utility customer information shared with VAPS easier for
competitors to obtain.
On September 26, 2019 the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) approved the following order for the development of a MPSC website for information sharing in regards to the utility customer information currently being shared with their Value Added Products and Services (VAPS) as required by MCL 460.10ee(10)(a).
MIACCA has met with the MPSC and has been advocating for appropriate procedures for contractors to have access to the same utility customer information currently being shared with VAPS, for their appliance service programs (ASP).
Mike Byrne, COO, of the MPSC gave a presentation (view presentation here) at the MIACCA September 19th meeting and many questions from our members expressing the need for such an avenue to be put into place as soon as possible. As a result, MIACCA is proud to let you know that we played an important part in getting this website put into place and will continue to represent the contractor's interest.
MIACCA will be sending the link to our members as soon as it is made available. In the meantime, the MPSC also temporarily approved the:
This form is to be used until the website is up and running.
Pictured left to right: David Gard (MEECA), Matt Michel (Service Round Table), Doug Young (Behler-Young), Phil Forner (Allendale Heating Company), Bill Krestakos (Schaffsma) who made up the panel discussion at the MIACCA Annual Meeting
Last month, MIACCA held it's annual meeting at the Hilton Garden Inn. The Michigan Public Service Commission's COO, Michael Byrne gave a presentation on the new code of conduct. Followed was a panel discussion and a presentation by Federated Insurance.
A mix and mingle trade show followed with our vendors, Adrian Steel, Online Access, Federated Insurance, Service Roundtable, Michigan Saves, Johnstone Supply and Behler-Young,
We would like to thank all of those who attended the event and making it a success!
Gov. Gretchen WHITMER today announced her appointment of Tremaine PHILLIPS to the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC).
Phillips will replace Norm SAARI who was appointed by former Gov. Rick SNYDER in 2015 with a term ending July 2. Saari was the former chief of staff for former House speakers Kevin COTTER and Jase BOLGER.
Whitmer has now made two appointments to the three-member MPSC. Earlier this year, she tapped Dan SCRIPPS to fill the vacancy left by Rachael EUBANKS when Whitmer named her state treasurer (See "Scripps Selected To Join MPSC; Bieda Going To Treasury," 2/8/19).
MPSC Chair Sally TALBERG is now the lone Snyder holdover, whose term ends July 2, 2021.
Phillips is currently the director of the Cincinnati 2030 District and the former vice president of strategic initiatives for Empower Gas and Electric, LLC, according to the Governor's office.
He formerly served as the assistant deputy director of the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth (DELEG) under former Gov. Jennifer GRANHOLM, as well as in an energy program association with the Michigan Environmental Council, and as an intern with the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
He earned his Bachelor of Science in Environmental Economics and Policy from Michigan State University, and his Master of Arts in Public Policy and Management and Juris Doctor degree from The Ohio State University.
"Tremaine's experience ranges from the utility sector, state government and clean energy advocacy," the Governor said in a statement today. "His diverse background will give him the knowledge and insight to be successful in his new role and is supported by a broad array of stakeholders from environmental groups to business organizations."
Phillips will serve a term expiring July 2, 2025, and his appointment is subject to then advice and consent of the Senate.
LANSING, Mich. – Sales of electricity in Michigan are expected to be down for 2019, according to the Michigan Public Service Commission's Michigan Energy Appraisal Summer Outlook 2019, released today. Also, natural gas consumption is projected to be higher from May through September compared to the same period in 2018.
Electricity sales are expected to decrease by 0.9 percent to 102.9 thousand gigawatt hours, according to the annual MPSC analysis of trends in the state's fuel and power sectors. That's down from 103.8 thousand gigawatt hours from the previous year. Residential sales are expected to drop 2.2 percent and commercial 0.6 percent. But industrial sales are expected to rise 0.3 percent. Consumption in the residential and commercial sectors is largely dependent on weather. If the summer is warmer than normal, then demand for electricity to power air conditioning could rise.
Natural gas demand is expected to rise 1.4 percent this year, due mainly to increased use for electricity production driven partially by January's polar vortex, according to the report. Higher than forecast temperatures this summer will also increase demand for cooling and electricity to run air conditioning. If prices remain at current levels, this year's average residential bill is expected to be $20 lower than last year due largely to falling U.S. prices.
Michigan drivers should plan to pay more for a gallon of gasoline this summer as demand for the fuel is expected to increase for the seventh year in a row. A gallon is expected to average $2.83 during the April through September summer driving period. The price of a gallon of diesel fuel is expected to be $3.20, down a penny from last year.
Other highlights from the MPSC's Summer 2019 Energy Appraisal:
The MPSC has published a summer and winter energy appraisal every year since 1978.
For information about the MPSC, visit www.Michigan.gov/MPSC, sign up for one of its listservs, or follow the Commission on Twitter.
Now that the utilities have been cleared to expand their Value Added Programs and Services, such as the Appliance Service Program, the Michigan Public Service Commission is responsible for the implementation of the Code of Conduct. Utility competition will now become a very substantial threat to our industry.
MIACCA is committed to making sure our industry needs and concerns are represented so on Friday, May 24, 2019 MIACCA President Bill Krestakos, MIACCA Executive Director M.J. D'Smith, MIACCA members Doug Young of Behler-Young and Brad Bartholomew of Bartholomew Heating & Cooling along with MEECA Executive Director David Gard met with the Michigan Public Service Commission Chairman Sally Talberg and her staff to address these important issues:
1. Value Added Products and Services (VAPS)
a. Currently no rule or directive as to classifying information as confidential
2. DTE/Consumer Annual Reports a. Unredacted Reports to be public
3. Code of Conduct Section 2 under 460.10ee
a. Who decides if the new product or service offerings will harm or unduly restrain free trade in an unregulated market?
b. What is the process to challenge a regulated utilities product or service offering prior to that offering?
c. How cost prohibitive or restrictive will that process be?
4. Energy Ombudsman Vacancy
a. Who is going to ensure compliance with the Code of Conduct?
5. Midstream Rebates on Residential HVAC
The meeting was very well received by the MPSC staff and Chairman Talberg is already in the process of addressing these issues:
1) Ensuring transparency for stakeholders of new value-added program filings and annual reports so there is awareness and easy access by contractors/stakeholders;
2) Staffing to ensure adequate review of utility filings and overall compliance with code of conduct;
3) Clarify what can and cannot be filed as "confidential" for purposes of filings under COC
4) Ascertaining better understanding of utility plans for offering value-added services or products.
MIACCA has offered any assistance that we can to help the MPSC address these issues in order to protect our industry.
This is just another way that we continue working hard for our members.
In order to make the e-mail size smaller, attached are links to articles provided for you by Federated Insurance designed to be short awareness pieces for member education:
Risk Management Corner – Property/Casualty and/or Workers Compensation subjects
HR Question of the Month – a Human Resources-related question and answer from independent HR legal professionals
It’s Your Life – concepts related to Life and Disability insurance
You will find each Risk Management Corner and It’s Your Life article listed with the most current first. You can share the post directly by utilizing the post URL or use the PDF and/or JPG at the bottom of the post for your specific needs. The HR Question of the Month will be replaced each month with a new question/answer.
We hope you will share them with your members via links on your website, direct e-mails, e-newsletter, and/or in your print publication by also sending to your direct publisher if required.
As you consider how to best use these articles, please be sensitive to the fact that these are copyrighted materials and must include all copyright, disclaimer, source/cite, and corporate ID information when reproduced in any electronic and/or print medium. If you have questions, please contact your Federated Account Executive.
Federated Insurance appreciates our relationship both with your association and your members. We look forward to continuing to work with you to provide your members with the very best insurance and risk management services!
U.S. trade negotiators have reached a deal with officials from Canada and Mexico to lift the 25 percent steel and 10 percent aluminum tariffs on imports from those countries. The steel and aluminum tariffs have been a sticking point from Congressional leaders in trying to get the U.S., Mexico, Canada Agreement (USMCA) approved by Congress, however removing the tariffs does not guarantee the measure will be approved this year.
The tariffs will no longer be applied to imports from Canada and Mexico starting over the weekend.
Some trade policy experts were worried the deal would cap the amount of imports from Canada and Mexico, however the final deal does not contain quotas. The deal does require both countries to prevent other countries, especially known dumpers of cheap steel and aluminum, from sending product through Canada and Mexico to avoid the tariffs.
The addition of tariffs on steel and aluminum put in place last year has increased prices on many HVACR products and caused retaliatory tariffs from our trading partners. With the removal of the tariffs from our largest source of steel imports, we are one step closer to returning to price stability that has been interrupted by various trade disputes in recent years.
As always, feel free to reach out to Alex or me if you have any questions about this process or the tariffs themselves.
Vice President of Government Affairs