The ‘Power’ of Freedom

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Senator Patrick Colbeck

Senator Patrick Colbeck

By Sen. Patrick Colbeck

7th Senate District


In 2016, Michigan will be center stage for yet another battle between those who advocate for more government control and those who advocate on behalf of freedom. The subject of this latest battle? Electricity.

There are “power”ful advocates (pun intended) in Lansing pushing for increased state regulation in response to increased regulation by the federal government. I believe it is in the best interests of Michigan citizens to promote a free market competition.

Why do I believe this? There are many reasons, but it starts with the following observation. Between 1997 and 2014, of the 48 contiguous states and Washington D.C., the increase in average electricity price in the 14 competitive states was 40.9 percent, compared to 59.9 percent in the 35 monopoly states. Five of the six states with the lowest percentages were choice states. (SOURCE: U.S. Energy Information Administration.) Competition constrains the growth in electricity rates.

The 19 percent difference in the rate of price increases may not seem like much, but that is 19 percent of the growth in an $8 billion market that is going to the pockets of utilities, not to your pockets. That’s 19 percent that goes toward full-color pamphlets on energy savings. That’s 19 percent that goes toward reports comparing your energy consumption with your neighbors’. That’s 19 percent that goes toward TV ads promoting a virtual corporate monopoly for services upon which everyone depends.

Electric choice is about much more than the cost of electricity, though. The issue touches on many concerns faced by families in Michigan.

Concerned about unrestricted growth of household expenses? Electric choice is the answer. Household budgets are being stretched. Let’s shrink one of our nearly universal expenses.

Concerned about poor customer service? Electric choice is the answer. Monopolies breed arrogance. Competition breeds excellence.

Concerned about smart meters? Electric choice is the answer. Consumers can seek out utilities that don’t charge them more for sticking with analog meters.

Concerned about reliability? Electric choice is the answer. Michigan consumers experienced four times the number of outages as the citizens of the choice-driven Illinois market. (SOURCE: “Improving Michigan’s Electric Utility Industry,” Gary Wolfram, Ph.D.)

Concerned about more money for schools? Electric choice is the answer. More than 40 percent of Michigan school districts take advantage of competitive energy sources to lower their operating costs.

Concerned about the environment? Electric choice is the answer. With a competitive energy market, you could choose what energy source you prefer in much the same way that our competitive auto market allows you to choose to drive an electric or hybrid car.

Concerned about incentivizing businesses to set up shop in Michigan? Electric choice is the answer. Lower energy costs result in lower operating expenses, which frees up more resources for growing businesses and the number of job opportunities for our citizens.

In summary, if you want a brighter future for Michigan, electric choice is the answer.

Sen. Patrick Colbeck represents the 7th Senate District, which encompasses the cities of Livonia, Northville, Plymouth and Wayne, as well as the townships of Canton, Northville and Plymouth.