MPSC’s Winter Energy Outlook

MPSC’s Winter Energy Outlook

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   October 29, 2020

Media Contact: Matt Helms 517-284-8300
Customer Assistance: 800-292-9555

Despite a long-term forecast for a comparatively normal Michigan winter, demand for home heating fuel is expected to rise as more Michiganders continue to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the MPSC’s 2020-2021 Winter Energy Appraisal released today.

The continued impact of the pandemic has thrown a curveball to forecasting, given unknowns about the potential impact of rising COVID-19 cases and delays in the reporting of energy data the MPSC uses for its projections. At the same time, the pandemic has upended typical energy use patterns — driving down business energy use while increasing residential energy demand.

Among the key findings in this year’s report:

  • The industrial sector is expected to see a significant decline in natural gas use due to the impact of COVID-19 on regional and global economic activity.
  • Retail propane prices started the heating season at an average of $1.66 per gallon, a 6-cent increase from the 2019 winter average, but a 1-cent decrease from this time last year.
  • Electricity sales declined noticeably with the onset of COVID-19, and no supply shortages or transmission constraints are expected. Residential electric bills are generally higher, due in part to the prevalence of remote working.
  • Demand for motor gasoline in 2019 declined for the first time since 2012, falling 4.3% to 4.6 billion gallons. The Energy Information Administration expects Midwest gasoline prices to average $2.02 in 2020, 46 cents lower than a year ago.
  • Michigan produced about 5.1 million barrels of crude oil in 2019, down marginally from 5.4 million barrels in 2018, with prices for Michigan sweet and sour crude oil averaging about $50 per barrel and $45 per barrel, respectively.

Here’s the outlook by fuel category:


  • Key takeaway: Given the economic slowdown and business closures related to COVID-19, demand for natural gas in Michigan is expected to decline. Residential natural gas use, however, may increase for the 77% of Michigan households that use the fuel for home heating, as more residents work remotely from home.
  • Supply: U.S. Inventories are up 9% over 2019.
  • Cost: The fuel cost portion of natural gas bills are expected to be slightly lower than a year ago.


  • Key takeaway: Supplies remain abundant and prices low.
  • Demand: About 8% of Michigan households use propane as their primary heating fuel, and with more people working remotely, residential demand could rise. Another primary use of propane in Michigan is for drying harvested corn crops, but many Midwestern states, including Michigan, are showing corn progress ahead of the five-year average, indicating potentially lower use of propane for grain drying this fall.
  • Supply: U.S. inventories are 3% above last year. Midwest inventories remain near the five-year average.
  • Prices: Retail propane was stable in winter 2019-2020 and 14% lower than the year before. Wholesale prices heading into this year’s heating season were 1 cent lower than last year. The average retail price was $1.67 a gallon the week of Oct. 19, 2020.


  • Key takeaway:  Electric demand in the MISO footprint declined considerably at the onset of COVID-19, which could lead to overall lower demand for 2020.
  • Demand: A near-normal winter forecast may indicate slightly less residential electricity use. Industrial electricity use is expected to decline because of the impact of COVID-19 on the economy.
  • Supply: No supply shortages or transmission constraints are anticipated.
  • Prices: Year-over-year changes can vary significantly by utility. DTE Electric Co.’s prices were 5.2% higher in 2020 than the year before, while Consumers Energy’s prices were 0.6% higher. Certain areas of the central and western Upper Peninsula continue to pay the highest rates in the state.


  • Key takeaway: Gasoline demand fell 1.3% in 2019 compared to the year before, and demand is likely to decrease again in 2020 owing to COVID-19’s impact on the economy. Demand was lower than the five-year average in the months of April, May and June 2020 by 47%, 31% and 14%, respectively.
  • Demand: With the uncertainty of the pandemic, demand is likely to remain depressed.
  • Supply: Marginally lower year-over-year Midwest inventory levels of 48.3 million barrels are likely the result of lower than normal refinery utilization.
  • Prices: Prices as of Oct. 23, 2020, averaged $2.10 statewide, down 48 cents a gallon year over year. The Midwest is expected to average $2.02 a gallon in 2020.


  • Key takeaway: Sales were down only slightly in 2019 compared to the year before. In the months of April, May and June 2020, demand for diesel fell by 18%, 16%, and 2%, respectively, compared to the previous five-year average.
  • Demand: Demand will likely remain lower in 2020 due to COVID-19, although not as severely as motor gasoline.
  • Supply: Midwest distillate stocks were higher entering fall 2020. National inventories are above the five-year average.
  • Prices: On-highway diesel fuel prices as of Oct. 23, 2020, were $2.37, down 62 cents per gallon from the year before. Heating oil on Nov. 4, 2019, was $2.60, 36 cents lower than the year before.

Among significant developments in the state’s energy outlook:

Enbridge Energy filed an application with MPSC for authority to replace and relocate the segment of Line 5 crossing the Straits of Mackinac into a tunnel beneath the lakebed. The application seeks approval to replace the current two 20-inch pipes with a single 30-inch pipe. More information is available at

The Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) Planning Resource Auction for Local Resource Zones 2 and 7, which cover most of Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas, cleared at $5 and $257.53 per MW-day, representing an increase of $2.01 and $233.23 per MW-day, respectively. The significant increase in the Zone 7 clearing price is a result of the zone not meeting its local clearing requirement for resources located within the zone.

Read the full Michigan Winter Energy Appraisal by clicking here.

For help with heating bills or energy self-sufficiency, go to the MPSC’s webpage on utility assistance. Information also is available on Home Heating Credit and for help in home weatherization to cut energy costs.

For information about the MPSC, visit, sign up for one of its listservs, or follow the Commission on Twitter.

Take precautions during Halloween

Take precautions during Halloween

For immediate release: October 29, 2020
MDARD media contact: Jennifer Holton, 517-284-5724
MDHHS media contact: Lynn Sutfin 517-241-2112

LANSING, MI – As the excitement around Halloween heightens, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services remind residents to take precautions — from both a COVID-19 standpoint and to assure food safety — to assure a safe and fun celebration.

“COVID-19 cases are unfortunately on the rise in all parts of the state, and activities like trick-or-treating or indoor Halloween parties significantly increase the risk of transmission or exposure,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS. “We recommend that families avoid trick-or-treating and consider other ways to celebrate this year.”

Alternative Halloween celebrations open the door to creativity and family fun. Ideas for celebrating include scavenger hunt style trick-or-treating, decorating the house, having a virtual Halloween costume contest with friends and family, or staying in and watching Halloween movies dressed in costumes.

If you choose to participate in trick-or-treating activities, there are some steps you can take to reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure and transmission. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following:


  • Avoid direct contact with trick-or-treaters.
  • Give out treats outdoors, if possible.
  • Set up a station with individually bagged treats for kids to take.
  • Wash hands before handling treats.
  • Wear a mask when passing out treats.


  • Make your cloth mask part of your costume.
  • A costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth mask.
  • Do NOT wear a costume mask over a cloth mask. It can make breathing more difficult.
  • Masks should NOT be worn by children under the age of 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from others who do not live with you.
  • Indoors and outdoors, you are more likely to get or spread COVID-19 when you are in close contact with others for a long time.


  • Bring hand sanitizer with you and use it after touching objects or other people.
  • Use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • Parents: supervise young children using hand sanitizer.
  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when you get home and before you eat any treats.

Food safety is also an important part of keeping Halloween safe and fun. Before trick or treating, remind children not to accept or eat anything that isn’t commercially wrapped. These items may not have been properly made or packaged and could contain bacteria that may cause foodborne illnesses. Children should also be fed a light meal or snack to keep them from eating candy before you’ve had a chance to inspect it.

“It’s important for parents to look through their child’s Halloween candy,” said Tim Slawinski, MDARD Food and Dairy Division Director. “Parents should look for signs of tampering such as discoloration, tiny pinholes, or tears in wrappers, and throw away anything that looks suspicious.”

For your Halloween celebrations, follow these simple food safety tips:

  • Avoid eating dough and batters that contained uncooked eggs.
  • Keep perishable foods chilled until serving time, including sandwiches, cheese platters, fruit or salads, cold pasta dishes with meat, poultry, seafood, and cream pies or cakes with whipped-cream and cream-cheese frostings.
  • If serving juice or cider, please review the label. Product that is distributed to stores is required to be pasteurized. If serving unpasteurized product that was purchased at the location it was pressed, please review the warning label and take the appropriate precautions to protect the people you are serving.

For food safety tips or information, visit For tips on reducing the risk of COVID-19 spread for your family, visit


MDHHS Adds Testing Requirements for Homes for the Aged

MDHHS Adds Testing Requirements for Homes for the Aged


CONTACT: Lynn Sutfin, 517-241-2112

LANSING, Mich. – Today the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) issued an epidemic order adding requirements for COVID-19 diagnostic testing in homes for the aged (HFAs) and larger adult foster care facilities, and modifying requirements for skilled nursing facilities (SNFs).

The state has already provided direct support that has resulted in nearly 70,000 samples that have been tested from patients and staff in nursing homes and other long-term care settings, and given the significant risk of outbreaks in long-term care facilities and the higher likelihood of severe health outcomes from COVID-19 among the elderly, it is imperative that routine testing be provided to identify infections quickly and contain spread. As of this week, more than 100 new or ongoing outbreaks were reported in long-term care facilities.

Today’s order makes modest updates to testing requirements that have been in place for skilled nursing facilities since June 15, with new requirements that homes for the aged and large adult foster care facilities conduct the same testing. Testing is part of a comprehensive prevention and infection control plan for congregate care settings. MDHHS has provided financial support to facilities for PPE, provided technical assistance and support on infection prevention measures, and put in place preventative measures like safety protocols for visitation to prevent COVID-19 spread in long-term care facilities.

“COVID targets individuals who live in group care, and it’s our job as Michiganders to protect them,” said MDHHS Director Robert Gordon. “Less COVID in the community means less COVID in group homes, so each of us helps when we wear masks, watch our distance, and wash hands. But these homes also need a second line of defense, and that defense is regular testing for residents, staff, and visitors.”

The testing order requires that all SNFs, all HFAs, and AFCs licensed to serve 13 or more individuals provide for the following:

Initial testing of all residents and staff;

  • Testing any resident or staff member with symptoms of COVID-19 or suspected exposure;
  • Weekly testing of all residents and staff in facilities with any positive cases among residents or staff, until 14 days after the last new positive;
  • Weekly testing of all staff in counties of risk levels A through E on the MI Safe Start Map;
  • Testing of all new or returning residents during intake unless tested in the 72 hours prior to intake;
  • Testing of all newly hired staff on their start date or in the 72 hours prior to start date.

MDHHS’s Oct. 21 Epidemic Order “Requirements in residential care facilities” also requires testing of visitors to residential care facilities that have an MDHHS-required resident and staff testing regimen. This will include HFAs and AFCs serving 13 or more individuals, as well as SNFs, after today’s testing order takes effect.

To help implement these testing requirements, the state will provide antigen testing supplies for all facilities affected by this order, and MDHHS has established a system for refilling antigen supplies provided directly by the federal government. Facilities may alternatively develop their own testing program and seek reimbursement; MDHHS will reimburse testing expenses not covered by insurance.

Hospice facilities licensed by the state as a nursing home must test all staff at the same intervals of nursing home staff, and may test a hospice patient with consent of the individual or other person legally authorized to make medical care decisions for the individual.

Nursing homes have been testing under a prior order and must continue it under the new order. HFAs must begin as soon as practicable and not later than Nov. 18.

AFCs serving 13 individuals or more must begin testing as soon as practicable and no later than Nov. 24 for testing individuals with symptoms or exposure, weekly testing in facilities with positives, and testing of new residents or staff. AFCs must begin initial testing of all residents and staff, as well as weekly staff testing, by December 2. However, AFCs must test any resident leaving the facility to spend the Thanksgiving holiday in a residential home or for an overnight stay in the community prior to that resident’s departure and upon return to the facility.

Consistent with MCL 333.2261, violation of this order is punishable by a civil fine of up to $1,000, and may also be treated as a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than six months, or a fine of not more than $200, or both.

This order is effective immediately and remains in effect until rescinded. Persons with suggestions and concerns are invited to submit their comments via email to [email protected]An infographic that explains visitation requirements in long-term care facilities can be found on the MDHHS website.

Information around the COVID-19 outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at and

Governor Whitmer Signs Bills Into Law 

Governor Whitmer Signs Bills Into Law 

Governor Gretchen Whitmer Banner - headshot with bridge graphic


October 28, 2020

Contact: [email protected]


Governor Whitmer Signs Bills Into Law


LANSING, Mich. — Today, Governor Whitmer signed House Bills 5756 and 5757 into law. The governor also vetoed House Bill 4476.


House Bill 5756 and 5757  extend the validity of enhanced driver licenses, enhanced official state personal identification cards, and official state personal identification cards that expired on or after March 1, 2020. Each will now be valid until December 11, 2020. The bills also waive late fees for renewal of these cards. The bills were sponsored by Representative Mike Mueller, R-Linden.


House Bill 4476 was vetoed by the governor. The bill would have increased the threshold for certain competitive bidding contracts for a wide variety of local road projects, but also created a cap for certain projects. This would have effectively cancelled certain ongoing road maintenance projects. The bill was sponsored by Representative Gary Eisen, R-Saint Clair Township.


To view the governor’s veto letter for HB 4476, click the link below:

Michigan Leaders Encourage Citizens to Make a Plan to Vote

Michigan Leaders Encourage Citizens to Make a Plan to Vote

Governor Gretchen Whitmer Banner - headshot with bridge graphic


October 28, 2020

Media Contact: [email protected]


Michigan Leaders Encourage Citizens to Make a Plan to Vote

Voters can be confident all valid ballots will be counted

Lansing – Michigan state government’s four highest elected officials held a joint press conference today to encourage citizens to make a plan to vote as soon as possible, and assure them that all valid ballots will be counted.

“In this election, voters will be able to cast their vote with confidence and know that their voice matters,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “Everyone needs to make a plan. Schedule time in your day to fill out your ballot and take it in. If you don’t yet have an absentee ballot and would like one, whether you have requested it or not, you should go to your clerk’s office to request one, fill it out, sign the envelope and submit it.”

Registered voters can request an absentee ballot at their clerk’s office until 4 p.m. on Monday Nov. 2 or vote at their polling place on Nov. 3. Unregistered voters can register and request and absentee ballot at their clerk’s office until 8 p.m. on Nov. 3.

With less than a week until Election Day, voters should not rely on the United States Postal Service to deliver their absentee ballots, and should instead go in person to their clerk’s office or a ballot drop box in their jurisdiction. Voters can find their clerk office and drop box locations at They can also track their absentee ballot at the same site to ensure it is received. All absentee ballots must be received by 8 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 3, in an envelope with a signature that matches the voter’s signature on file with their clerk.

“In Michigan every valid absentee ballot will be counted as they always have been, by a pair of election workers – one from each major political party – trained to count together without political bias,” said Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. “Further, even after the counting is done, which could take until Friday in some jurisdictions, boards at the county and state levels, comprised of people from both parties, must then review the procedures and counts of the entire election, before the results can be certified as official.”

“I’ve been traveling across our state encouraging Michiganders to make a plan to vote early with an absentee ballot,” said Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II. “If you do plan to go to the polls on Election Day, remember that voter intimidation of any kind is illegal, and everyone has the right to vote without fear of intimidation. Unregistered voters can register and vote at their clerk’s office, including during their clerk’s office hours this weekend. Election workers are required to wear masks, and all voters are strongly encouraged to do so.”

“Voting is a fundamental right and we will make sure every eligible person is able to fulfill that right without intimidation just like we have in every past election,” Attorney General Dana Nessel said. “This election – thanks to no-reason absentee voting – Michiganders have already turned out in record numbers to cast their ballot. But, we’re not done yet. If you haven’t voted, you can still do so by dropping off your absentee ballot at the clerk’s office or voting in person on Nov. 3. You can even visit your clerk’s office before Election Day, get a ballot and vote in person right then and there – just be sure to cancel your absentee ballot if you had requested one. All are safe and secure and guarantee that your voice will be heard in this year’s elections.”

See below for photos from today’s press conference: