MERIDIAN TOWNSHIP - As part of "Small Business Saturday" on Nov. 30, the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) is highlighting ways small businesses in Michigan can get help with utility issues.
"The Michigan Public Service Commission works with small businesses to solve problems, to answer questions, and to serve as a resource," said MPSC Chairman John D. Quackenbush. "We know how challenging it is to run a small business successfully. That's why the Commission has a designated small business ombudsman, who helps small businesses deal with a variety of utility-related issues. We encourage small businesses to contact the MPSC by asking for its small business ombudsman at its toll-free phone number: 1-800-292-9555."
The MPSC has successfully assisted business with installation of new service; power quality and reliability concerns; deposit and payment arrangements; meter concerns; some telecommunication issues; and landlord issues.
The MPSC highlighted the following ways businesses may lower bills or prevent problems:
• Under the MPSC Rules for Service Quality and Reliability Standards, commercial customers may be eligible for a credit on their electric bill, if they experience frequent outages. A business should notify its electric utility of service outages and retain a written record of the outages as well as notification information.
• Churches, schools, charities, eligible hospitals, and other nonprofit organizations are exempt from state sales tax on regulated electric, natural gas, and telecommunication bills. This results in significant savings on monthly utility bills. It is important to contact each utility in order to comply with their filing process and keep the filing current.
• Energy efficiency programs designed to help Michigan businesses are available to help cut electric and natural gas bills. Businesses should contact their utilities to learn what energy efficiency measures are available to them. In addition, the Michigan Saves Business Energy Financing Program helps businesses reduce costs by providing low-interest financing for energy efficient lighting, heating and cooling systems, insulation, refrigeration, equipment and more.
• Many utility services in Michigan are open to competition. This enables Michigan businesses to choose from a number of competing electric, natural gas, and telecommunications suppliers at rates that are not regulated by the MPSC. Shopping for utility services is a new experience for many businesses, providing opportunities as well as challenges. Electric competition in Michigan is limited to 10 percent of a utility's retail sales and many are already at their 10 percent cap. Therefore, customers interested in electric choice may need to enter their utility's queue for choice service.
• Business owners have many expenses, and paying for utility service may be one of the more significant. To prevent disconnection of service or payment of a costly security deposit, it is important to understand the rules that govern utility deposits and how those deposits may affect commercial service.
First observed in 2010, Small Business Saturday is observed the Saturday after Thanksgiving Day. Shoppers are encouraged to patronize brick and mortar businesses that are small and local. The U.S. Small Business Administration’s website has more information.
The MPSC is an agency within the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.