Ann Arbor for Public Power, a nonprofit grassroots citizen group, has been leading the municipalization effort. “We applaud City Council, and look forward to working with our elected city officials and city staff to see the feasibility study to completion,” said A2P2 President Greg Woodring. “We thank everyone who has helped advance this effort, including the sponsors of this resolution, the Ann Arbor Energy Commission, and the more than 1,300 Ann Arbor residents who signed petitions in support of a feasibility study.”
As the resolution noted, the city’s A2Zero climate action plan calls for a transition to 100% renewable power by 2030. Municipalization is a legal and established means to achieve that goal. 41 Michigan cities and towns operate munis, and both the state constitution and city charter explicitly enable new ones.
DTE Energy, the city’s monopoly private electric utility, generates 70% of its electricity from fossil fuels, mainly coal, and only 10% from renewables. A municipal electric utility, on the other hand, can purchase 100% clean energy off the regional grid, as well as develop local community solar generation. A muni can also update an aging infrastructure to reduce outages and make the grid more resilient.
The City Council resolution specifically directed staff to draft an RFP (request for proposals) to invite bids from outside consultants to conduct the feasibility study. The study would also include an analysis of alternatives to help Ann Arbor achieve its clean energy goals.
Council’s resolution also authorized the advancing of a sustainable energy utility (SEU). An SEU is a municipal utility that would operate alongside DTE to promote rooftop solar, energy efficiency, building electrification, and self-powering micro- and nanogrids. A2P2 supports the SEU as a way to accelerate the clean energy transition until the city establishes the muni and acquires DTE’s assets.
Ann Arbor for Public Power will continue promoting community discussion around municipalization, as it works towards an eventual voter referendum to establish a municipal electric utility to replace DTE.