Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

Hieftje in running for State appointment

2. August 2007 • Murph
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Mayor Hieftje has confirmed to the News a report by the Michigan Information and Research Service Inc. that he’s being considered for a post with the Michigan Public Service Commission, the three-member board that sets rates for public utilities and regulates private utilities.

Hieftje is one of three candidates being considered for the post. MIRS said the others are Curtis Blessing, a Detroit attorney who was active in the Detroit mayoral campaigns of Freman Hendrix and Dennis Archer, and Orjiakor Isiogu, the director of the Michigan Public Service Commission’s telecommunications operation.

MIRS reported that Hieftje is being considered because of his advocacy of renewable energy. . .

Mike Shriberg, executive director of Environment Michigan, said Hieftje has shown great vision in promoting clean energy in Ann Arbor. Environment Michigan is a statewide environmental advocacy group with more than 10,000 members.

“It would be a benefit to the entire state to have that vision at the Michigan Public Service Commission,’‘ Shriberg said. “John’s vision for Ann Arbor is exactly what we need at the state.’‘

Shriberg said the commission will be spending much time debating the sources for electricity in the state. Michigan still gets more 50 percent of its electricity from coal, said Shriberg, who noted that Hieftje understands the need for more reliance on clean sources like wind and solar power.

In the event of Hieftje’s selection by Governor Granholm, Mayor Pro-tem Easthope would assume mayoral duties.



  1. For those in the know: Would Easthope serve as Mayor for the remainder of the current term (until the Nov. 08 elections), or would an election be held sooner to replace Hieftje?

    Would a new Councilmember be selected to take Easthope’s place, or would it remain for him to step back down into upon election of a Mayor?


       —Murph.    Aug. 2 '07 - 04:52PM    #
  2. There is no provision in the city charter for special elections to fill vacancies. In theory, a partial term for mayor could be elected in November 2007, but it’s surely too late for that, if Hieftje leaves office even today.


       —Larry Kestenbaum    Aug. 2 '07 - 05:10PM    #
  3. Easthope would automatically become Mayor, per the City Charter. He would serve the remainder of Hieftje’s term, which is November 2008. The Council would then appoint someone to replace Easthope as the other 5th Ward Councilmember, again per City Charter. That person would serve the remainder of Easthope’s term, which is through November 2008.


       —Bill T.    Aug. 2 '07 - 05:41PM    #
  4. I think the mayor’s possible appointment to the Public Service Commission is wonderful news! John has been a tireless advocate on energy issues. As I reported here earlier, he wants the City to consider forming its own “electricity authority.” Pity that the AA News didn’t pick that story up.


       —David Cahill    Aug. 2 '07 - 06:30PM    #
  5. I would love to see some additional drive and activism brought to MPSC. Getting Michigan moved into the 21st century with its power infrastructure is a good thing.

    On a related point, WDET is going to be running a program on Friday (August 3) at 10am about DTE’s new “Greencurrents” offset-credit program (DTE isn’t offering consumers green power as yet).


       —Philip Proefrock    Aug. 2 '07 - 09:03PM    #
  6. DTE used to offer green energy their Solar Currents program. The program was started during 1996 but it looks like the program was quietly canceled recently. The initial Solar Currents site still has solar panels installed and I believe they are still operational though I cannot say with absolute certainty. While DTE should increase the amount of green energy they generate it is not fair to suggest that they have never offered a green energy program to their customers.


       —Liz    Aug. 3 '07 - 12:57AM    #
  7. A reminder to people who have been hit by recent power outages (four that I have counted in the last two months) that there is a DTE Power Outage Map which lists the current state of service across the whole DTE area, marked zip code by zip code for number of subscribers offline.

    That link will land you on a PDF, which is updated every 30 minutes. Bonus points to anyone who wants to help me collect, archive, and animate those.


       —Edward Vielmetti    Aug. 3 '07 - 02:05AM    #
  8. Edward

    Its so 21st century of you to want to collect, archive, and animate your outages but might I point out that that will do nothing to lessen the energy demand. The energy demand will decrease though if you turn off your air conditioner. If you do not have one, or have rendered it inoperable, congratulations. Many summer power outages are related to energy demand, specifically air conditioning and refrigeration. Lately our area has been quite cool, I have informally counted less than 10 really hot days all year, and it is now August. As a matter of fact I recently overheard a woman say to her friend, on a cool evening that everyone was looking for a sweater or a fleece, that she should probably go home and turn her AC off. What a waste.

    Green energy is great but smart energy use is way better; stop air conditioning your empty homes.

    Mayor Hieftje, renewable energy is important but focus hard on just having people turn off their stuff when it is not needed. Americans waste a lot of energy.


       —abc    Aug. 3 '07 - 02:56AM    #
  9. Am I the only one who thinks that an Ann Arbor electricity authority is overly ambitious? What makes anyone think the city has sufficient scale, skill, or wisdom to do that in a cost effective way? The city can barely manage itself.

    Now, if we were participating in a network of similarly minded cities, maybe …

    Abc, good luck on your quest to have other people turn off their air conditioners … managing group resources by telling others how to invest their own resources is not even Neanderthal.


       —Fred Zimmerman    Aug. 7 '07 - 05:30PM    #
  10. My usually reliable sources close to the appointment process say that Hieftje’s out of the running. There was an AFL-CIO screening process, and he didn’t do well, so he’s no longer being considered, I’m told.


       —Tom Wieder    Aug. 19 '07 - 07:11PM    #
  11. This is a major disappointment. I hope your sources aren’t reliable this time.


       —David Cahill    Aug. 19 '07 - 09:02PM    #
  12. David-Just curious, are you disappointed because you thought he’d be good for the MPSC, or because you wanted him out of A2?


       —Tom Wieder    Aug. 19 '07 - 10:09PM    #
  13. I think he’d be good for the MPSC.


       —David Cahill    Aug. 19 '07 - 10:20PM    #