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Industry News

Consumers Energy Bonds, Gas Program Approved

LCG, Oct. 26, 2000--The parent holding company for Consumers Energy Co. said yesterday that the Michigan Public Service Commission has approved securitization of $469 million in stranded electric utility costs and authorized expansion of its natural gas customer choice program.

A third commission order authorizes accounting changes the company says will mitigate future increases in the cost of natural gas.

"These orders on electric and natural gas utility issues represent the final major steps in electric and natural gas restructuring for Consumers Energy and remove the last significant regulatoryuncertainties affecting Consumers Energy's gas and electric utility businesses," said William T. McCormick Jr., chairman and chief executive of CMS Energy Corp.

With the commission action, Consumers Energy will be able to go ahead with the bond issue that will allow it to offset the earnings impact of a 5 percent residential electric rate cut that went into effect last June as a requirement of the Michigan electric restructuring law. The bonds are expected to come to market before the end of this year.

The company will also be able to expand its gas customer choice program beginning next April 1, when 600,000 customers will be eligible to participate, with the total increasing to 900,000 in a year. All 1.6 million Consumers Energy gas customers will be eligible to select an alternate natural gas supplier beginning April 1, 2003.

The order re-establishes a gas cost recovery mechanism the company says will allow it to recover increased natural gas commodity costs when it has to go into the wholesale market to purchase gas for delivery to customers.

The accounting change will allow Consumers Energy to average in the cost of low cost gas it has on hand with the cost of more expensive purchased gas.

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