Voters in Michigan have come out in favor of greater competition among electricity providers.
MLive.com reports that a new survey from polling firm EPIC-MRA asked 600 likely Michigan voters on their opinions of the current electricity regulations.
In 2008, the state passed a law allowing for a limited degree of competition among electricity suppliers, providing the first major option aside from Consumers Energy and Detroit Edison, the two primary utility companies in the state.
Michigan residents quickly took advantage of the lower electricity rates offered by independent providers, with the percentage of customers utilizing alternate electricity suppliers growing from 3 percent at the bill's passage to 10 percent three months later.
Despite the massive interest from customers, however, the 2008 electricity deregulation bill limited the number of customers that could make use of these alternate providers, imposing a cap of 10 percent of all customers.
Since then, the waiting list for access to alternate electricity providers has grown to more than 3,000 people.
With this in mind, consumer advocacy groups Customer Choice Coalition and Energy Choice Now commissioned the EPIC-MRA survey to illustrate the state's interest in further deregulation.
Crain's Detroit Business reports that a vast majority of respondents – 74 percent – felt favorably toward the idea of increasing access to alternate electricity providers. Eighteen percent were somewhat in favor of the idea, but a staggering 56 percent – a majority in itself – were strongly in favor of opening up the electricity market to more people.
Of the 26 percent not in favor of the reform, 8 percent either had no opinion or were uncertain, while 18 percent were opposed. Only 12 percent were strongly opposed to the idea.
The survey found similar numbers for whether such a policy would prove effective in reducing electricity bills, with 75 percent believing the change would help control costs and nearly half – 49 percent – seeing it as a very effective method.
"The two utilities use their clout to maintain their monopoly status to make their profits," David Waymire, spokesman for the Customer Choice Coalition, told MLive.com. "They are doing all they can to keep up their monopoly. It's to the detriment of other electric users."
A representative of Consumers Energy contended that the utilities offer higher prices because they must meet requirements electricity providers do not, insisting that competition should remain limited.