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Saturday, December 30, 2017

Michigan Public Service Commmission orders utilities to report on savings from new federal tax law

From Michigan Public Service Commission:

LANSING -- The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC), on Dec. 27, ordered  all rate-regulated utilities to report to the Commission on the impact passage of the new federal tax law will have on their customers.

Commission Chairman Sally Talberg said the special meeting was called to make sure the savings are calculated from the effective day of the federal legislation, which is Jan. 1, 2018.

The new law, signed by President Donald Trump on Dec. 22, is expected to reduce the amount utilities will pay in federal taxes.

"While regulatory accounting isn’t always the most headline-grabbing topic, the guidance the Commission is providing in today’s order is important because it maximizes our future options as we sort through the totality of impacts the new federal tax law will have when it takes effect Jan. 1," Commissioner Rachael Eubanks said on Dec. 27. "The information we receive in this docket will be incredibly useful in understanding the magnitude of the expected reduction in federal taxes that the utilities pay, which is likely to be significant. It will also provide broader input regarding the appropriate avenue for how to extend benefits to customers."

Utilities have until Jan. 19 to file their comments with the Commission (Case No. U-18494) on how they propose to return savings to ratepayers. Other interested parties will have until Feb. 2 to respond to utility proposals. The Commission will then determine how and when the savings will flow back to ratepayers.

Melissa Davis, Houghton Energy Efficiency Team (HEET) manager, whose work includes making people more comfortable while improving the efficiency of their homes, welcomed this announcement if it indeed means rate relief for utility customers.

"If our utility pays less in taxes, and they're mandated to pass those savings along to us, then bring it -- the sooner the better," Davis said.*

This MPSC order applies to Alpena Power Co.; Consumers Energy Co.; Detroit Thermal, LLC; DTE Electric Co.; DTE Gas Co.; Indiana Michigan Power Co.; Northern States Power Co.; Upper Peninsula Power Co.; Upper Michigan Energy Resources Corp.; Wisconsin Electric Power Co.; Presque Isle Electric and Gas Co-Op; Michigan Gas Utilities Corp.; and SEMCO Energy Gas Co.

For more information about the MPSC, please visit or sign up for one of its listservs to keep up to date on MPSC matters.

DISCLAIMER: This document (press release) was prepared to aid the public’s understanding of certain matters before the Commission and is not intended to modify, supplement, or be a substitute for the Commission’s orders. The Commission’s orders are the official action of the Commission.

* Editor's Note: Visit the HEET Web site to learn about their work. Read also about Melissa Davis's New Power Tour, a local non-profit whose mission is to increase the use of renewable, water and energy-efficient technologies.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Deadline for public comments on Lundin Mining request to amend Humboldt mining permit is Dec. 26, 2017

By Michele Bourdieu, with information from Michigan Dept. of Environmental Quality

Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) officials field questions and comments during the Nov. 27, 2017, public meeting on Lundin Mining's request to amend their (2010) Part 632 Mining Permit for the Humboldt Mill. Pictured here, from left, are Steve Casey, MDEQ Water Resources Division Upper Peninsula District supervisor; Melanie Humphrey, geological technician, and Joe Maki, geology specialist, both of MDEQ Oil, Gas, and Minerals Division, UP District. The deadline for public comments on this request is 5 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2017. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

MARQUETTE -- The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) announced in their calendar for this week that Tuesday, Dec. 26, is the deadline for comments on Lundin Mining’s request to amend their Humboldt Mill Mining Permit MP 01 2010, issued to Eagle Mine under Part 632, Nonferrous Metallic Mineral Mining, of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994 PA 451, as amended. Lundin is requesting approval to place tailings to a higher elevation in the Humboldt Tailings Disposal Facility (aka HTDF or the Humboldt Pit) than currently permitted. The MDEQ has determined that the request constitutes a significant change from the conditions of the approved 2010 mine permit, and as such the review of the request will proceed as for a new permit application.*

MDEQ held a public meeting on Lundin's request on Nov. 27, 2017, at the Westwood High School in Ishpeming. While the attendance was limited, MDEQ staff provided printed copies of Lundin's request and of the original Part 632 Mining Permit MP 01 2010 for the Humboldt Mill and fielded questions and comments from the audience.

During the MDEQ's Nov. 27 public meeting at Westwood High School in Ishpeming, Kathleen Heideman of the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition's (UPEC's) Mining Action Group, asks detailed questions concerning Lundin Mining's request to amend their Humboldt Mill Mining Permit. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

The Humboldt Mill mining permit states, under Condition F.4, "The permittee shall utilize the HTDF for subaqueous tailings disposal.The surface elevation of tailings shall not exceed elevation 1420 feet mean sea level."**

In their Aug. 2, 2017, letter to MDEQ requesting an amendment to Condition F.4 in the permit, Lundin states the following: "The recent discovery of Eagle East resulted in an increase in estimated reserves and will result in an increase in associated tailings if approval to mine is received. Please note that this permit amendment request would have been required even without the contribution of Eagle East due to the additional ore reserves identified during delineation work at Eagle since operations have begun."***

Lundin states in their request that the subaqueous tailings peaks are calculated to reach a maximum elevation of approximately 1515 ft. mean sea level with a reasonable water cover of about 20-25 ft. at closure. The request for the 1515 ft. amendment to Condition F.4 includes several pages of details and diagrams, including limnology and geochemistry predictions and a treatment and containment plan.***

At the Nov. 27 public meeting, MDEQ staff said the deadline for comments on the amendment request would be followed by a 28-day review. Once MDEQ has issued a proposed decision, a public hearing would be required.

The public may still email comments to, including "Humboldt Mill Amendment Request" as the subject.


UPDATE: Joe Maki said at the Nov. 27 meeting that comments received after the deadline would also be considered.

* The announcement of the Dec. 26 comment deadline can be found on the MDEQ Calendar for this week. (Please note that the meeting site mentioned refers to the Nov. 27 public meeting held at Westwood High School.)

** Click here for the MDEQ's Non-Ferrous Metallic Mining page with links to permits and click on Humboldt Mill Permit for the pdf document (27 pages).

 *** Click here for Lundin's Aug. 2, 2017, amendment request. A Nov. 20, 2017, letter from MDEQ to Eagle Mine confirms the agency's final decision to grant Eagle Mine's request to amend Mining Permit MP 01 2007 to include development of the Eagle East mineral resource under the provisions of Part 632. However this decision does not authorize final deposition of Eagle East tailings into the Humboldt Tailings Disposal Facility. This Nov. 20th letter is linked on the Non-Ferrous Metallic Mining page under Eagle East Permit Amendment.