Michigan Floriculture Growers Council Helps Growers With Energy Costs

January 20, 2006 - 11:38

The Michigan Floriculture Growers Council — a newly formed organization advocating for floriculture growers in Michigan — has teamed with the Michigan Farm Bureau to contact Consumers Energy and DTE to explore the possibility of budget billing for natural gas costs incurred in the production of greenhouse crops. Spreading payments throughout the year could defer a portion of heating costs until after 2006 crop income is received. This could also reduce growers’ dependence on interest-bearing operating loans to pay energy bills.

Raymond L. Bollaert of DTE advised that if growers are billed via CSB (DTE Energy) and they are not a transporter (wellhead buyer/alternate supplier source) of natural gas, they will qualify for budget billing. Gregory Woloszczuk, also of DTE Energy, reported that MichCon can provide commercial customers with budget billing only if they are on a rate sales service that is billed from their CSB system. Gas customers that have the transportation program or aggregate service are exclusively billed in the KCS system and cannot participate in budget billing.

If the greenhouse operation is large, it may have an assigned account manager who can be contacted for assistance. Others may call (800) 477-4747 to make a request for budget billing. However, Bollaert pointed out that if budget billing is requested during winter, the data will be accrued during a high-use time period, so the monthly bill could be double what it would be if they were to make such a request in the spring when the average use is much lower.

Steven L. Wallenwine of Consumers Energy reported that Consumers has a business center that works with their larger customers and those on the commercial electric or commercial gas rates. Commercial growers served by Consumers Energy may call the business center at (800) 805-0490. Any grower on “special ledger” will be referred to a second telephone number. There are plans currently being developed that may be of assistance to growers on the commercial rates. Customers should have their most recent bill in front of them when they call, to provide account numbers and other relevant information.

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