DTE Electric Co. is requesting a rate increase just months after receiving its last one, a hike that would raise the average customer’s bill by $12.46 a month.
If approved, the rate increase would be the eighth for DTE since 2010, and it comes after the utility’s last rate increase in November.
Last year, DTE sought to up its rates by 8.8%, but the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC), which regulates investor-owned utilities in the state, approved just 10% of the utility’s total request. The decision came after more than 200 people largely in opposition packed the first hearing of its kind held by the MPSC to consider DTE’s proposal, according to Planet Detroit.
On Feb. 10, DTE asked the MPSC for permission to increase its yearly revenues by $622 million, representing a nearly 14% residential rate increase. If the MPSC approves the request, the average residential customer’s bill could climb by $12.46 per month as soon as Dec.10, according to DTE’s application.
“It is somewhat shocking how much DTE is basically thumbing its nose at the public service commission with this latest rate case filing,” said Amy Bandyk, executive director of the Citizens Utility Board of Michigan.
In its application, DTE said the rate increase would recover costs associated with investments in electric distribution, its tree trimming program, and other operations. DTE’s request follows a pattern of high rate increases in short amounts of time, with poor service, according to several independent analyses.
Since 2010, DTE has been granted billions of dollars worth of rate increases. The utility has the highest kilowatt-per-hour rate compared to the other largest utilities in the Great Lakes region, according to an analysis by Outlier Media and ProPublica. Meanwhile, DTE has some of the most frequent, and longest lasting power outages in the country, and has a high rate of shutoffs for customers struggling to pay their bills.
But, “DTE’s Electric Company intentionally did not request a base rate increase during the COVID pandemic to assist customers with affordability during uncertain times,” spokesperson for DTE Peter Ternes, told BridgeDetroit. In that same timeframe, Ternes added, DTE invested more than $8 billion into its electric grid.
“In order to continue to make the progress that customers and the Michigan Public Service Commission expect, and to deal with continued inflation and material cost increases, DTE needs to file a rate case,” he said. “The outcome of this rate review will set the course for how we continue to make progress in electric system reliability improvements – preparing the electric grid for increased electrification and increasingly severe weather – and carbon reduction efforts.”
In November, the MPSC rejected 90% of DTE’s request, disputing the company’s projections of declining electricity use and therefore less revenue to conduct various programs and operations.
“In their order in the last rate case last November, the MPSC told DTE it had not justified its big proposed rate hike. Now, the utility is coming back and asking for the same amount of money, plus a lot more,” said Bandyk. “DTE appears to be ignoring the message from both regulators and their customers that they need to spend ratepayer dollars cost-effectively. That’s a problem because DTE customers are already paying high rates for poor service.”
In August 2022, the MPSC ordered an audit of DTE and Consumers Energy following a storm that left 500,000 residents without power, some for a week. The audit has not been completed yet, according to MPSC spokesperson Matt Helms.
To further transparency, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has been pushing for more transparency from utilities about how political contributions might be influencing policy.
Earlier this month, Nessel submitted comments to the MPSC advising that revised rate filing requirements should require utilities to report political contributions for the most recent five years prior to filing.
“The Attorney General finds that the [Rate Case Standard Filing Requirements] are currently deficient in providing sufficient information and insight on expenses incurred by the utilities to influence public policy and achieve rate case outcomes,” the letter stated.
Almost the entire Michigan Legislature has received donations from DTE, totaling $1.26 million, according to a report last year from the Energy and Policy Institute.
“If 138 out of 148 senators are taking money from them, it doesn’t seem like we’re going to have a fair shot at getting listened to or getting support from the state,” argued Jesse Deer in Water, an organizer for CRAFT, an Indigenous-led environmental justice organization.
“DTE does not need a rate increase, they need a rate decrease,” he told BridgeDetroit, noting the proposed rate increase compounds the last one and the company’s time-of-day plan launched in January, which increases rates during peak use times.
“This feels like an almost full-spectrum assault to our communities’ pockets,” he said.
Citizens can submit comments to the Michigan Public Service Commission regarding DTE’s rate increase application online. A pre-hearing to consider the request will be held remotely March 7.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the percentage increase for residential customers if DTE’s request is approved.
Bad timing to be asking us to all pay more…
How can DTE asked for another rate increase when they still have the worst timeline for power outages, I’m still without power from the storm on Wednesday night.
With all these Industrial solar power plants and these “wonderful” wind turbines, we should be getting a REDUCTION and not an increase. To listen to wind energy proponents and solar proponents, wind and solar are cheap, cheap, cheap.
Maybe the urban elite believe that nonsense, but people like me that deal with this all over the state know better.
To avoid public scrutiny, industrial wind developers quietly and methodically groom those who hold seats of power. This often occurs over a lengthy period of time, mostly outside of public view. They do not openly announce their presence or advertise their agenda unless they have been exposed to the wider community. Their approach to the general public is to withhold information, redefine the facts and rules, prey on the vulnerable, offer financial benefits in exchange for allegiance, blatantly and repeatedly lie, both minimize and exaggerate, use deflection and deception, publicly launch verbal attacks on individuals as well as groups, persistently degrade the other side, claim the opposition is misinformed or in league with the fossil fuel industry, use bully tactics which include veiled threats, falsely accuse opponents of doing the very things they, themselves, are doing, while branding them an unruly mob of troublemakers that needs to be dominated. Furthermore, these pro-wind operatives present themselves as the virtuous ones, the only source of truth. Let’s ask this question of all public officials: Is this who you want to align yourself with? Is this who you trust to respect the interests of the citizens you were elected to represent?
Be assured, those of us who fight to protect our communities, land, wildlife, and livelihoods are not near-sighted. Because we have studied energy issues people are experiencing all over the world, we understand we have serious problems that need solutions. Yet, in the end responsible citizens must ask: What good is saving the earth if we ruin the lives of its inhabitants?
But then, it isn’t really about saving the earth, is it?
How dare you increase my bill when we have the worst service ever. Old cable wires, power outages & no refunds for the length of time power is out. I can’t afford an increase.
Don’t believe I don’t believe the DTE needs to increase our rates anymore we have the lousiest in the lousiest electrical wiring in the in the country we do not need to be having a rates increase I’m struggling now to pay my bill as it is this is just totally outrageous
DTE is the worst! My bill averages $500 to $600 each month. My current bill is $815, all primarily electricity.
Paying them is like having a mortgage.
Dte don’t need more of our money. I only paid half my bill due to having to get a hotel from power outages.
My brother-in-law is a repair technician for DTE. The amount of time and money I hear about that this company wastes is astonishing and disgusting. And that’s only one part of DTE. These rate hikes are approved by a THREE person committee (MPSC) who are all APPOINTED by the governors. DTE and Michigan government officials need to get it together now. To submit online complaints to the MPSC: https://mpsc.force.com/complaints/complaintform
This is just absurd!! DTE’s CEO could take a 90% pay cut and still be a millionaire. That money would go a long way in fixing the electrical infrastructure in my community, where thousands of people froze or spent thousands of dollars that they don’t have on hotel rooms. DTE needs to re-prioritize before people give it the boot!
So, I’m reading all of this DTE increase non sense, as my power is out again as of 8:35pm on this writing! Please tell me this is a joke, and get your services improved and corrected first before asking for more money from your customers! I would be out of business if I ran mine this way!
Give us the service we all deserve first, and then maybe we can have a real conversation about the rest!
Decrease DTE s expensive rates by garnishing the CEO s millions and make them pay for hotels needed when their decrepit grid fails for over 24 hours. End utility greed!
DTE just received a rate increase. Now they are asking for another increase around 10%. Combined increase percentage, I believe, would be about 20%. 20% increase for the most crappy service I have ever received. Until they can do better, the answer to any rate increase should be a big NO.
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