Representation of the Public Interest in Michigan Utility Rate Proceedings

Although the Free Press study centered on political and economic issues, the operation of the Michigan Public Service Commission also raises significant issues regarding the role of public intervenors, agency compliance with statutory requirements, statutory construction, and legislative response to regulatory deficiencies. This Comment will consider the representation of the public interest in Michigan utility proceedings in the context of rate cases involving the state’s major utilities. While such an analysis does not reach the breadth of activities performed by the Commission, it is suggestive of the extent to which the Commission is responsive to the public interest generally. Following a description of the rate determination process, consideration will be given to isolating deficiencies in the present process, suggesting reasonable corrective measures, and to a comparison of several bills pending in the Michigan legislature that would significantly affect utility regulation.