Michigan attorney general intervenes in DTE Energy’s $456M rate hike request - TAI News
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Power lines. (Andrey Metelev / Unsplash)

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has intervened in DTE Energy’s latest attempt to raise electric energy prices for Michigan households.

Nessel’s team filed a notice of intervention on March 28, the same day the state’s largest power utility submitted its application to the Michigan Public Service Commission requesting an annual rate hike increase of approximately $456 million. DTE provides electricity to over 2 million customers in Southeast Michigan.

DTE’s recent request comes only four months after the public service commission, the state body that regulates utilities, granted a separate DTE request to increase its rates by $368 million. That increase alone will cost the average residential customer $100 or more on their utility bills per year, according to the attorney general’s office. Together, the two DTE requests would raise the company’s annual rates by more than $800 million within a little over a year. 

As Michigan’s chief law enforcement officer, Nessel has the ability to intervene in matters of public interest on behalf of Michigan residents.

In a press release, the attorney general’s office said the unprecedented frequency with which rate increase cases are piling up will lead to unsustainable electric bills for customers. Nessel called the latest rate hike request “absurd.”

“DTE is following their usual playbook, incessant and oppressive rate hike requests not grounded in reality, but rather based on the financial aspirations of their corporate shareholders,” Nessel said. “And DTE demands the money without implementing any corresponding accountability or reliability metrics and measures. DTE’s captive ratepayers in Detroit and elsewhere deserve better than this exploitation, where the utility baselessly demands more and more from their customers without promising anything in return by way of increased reliability or accountability.”

Michigan’s faulty electric grid was the subject of several legislative hearings last year after two back-to-back winter storms knocked out power for hundreds of thousands of people for days on end. State lawmakers confronted officials from DTE as well as from Michigan’s other utility company, Consumers Energy, with stories of residents who lost money due to spoiled food and medicine. At the time, DTE issued $35 credits for people who had no electricity for four days, and Consumers Energy issued their customers a $25 credit if they lost power for five or more days. Consumers Energy provides electricity to almost 2 million Michiganders.

In direct testimony on behalf of DTE, Adella Crozier, DTE director of regulatory affairs, said before the public service commission in March that the money it’s requesting will be used to rebuild and strengthen the company’s electric grid and replace coal plants with clean energy technologies such as wind turbines and solar power panels. 

Crozier added that customers would benefit from improvements to the reliability of the power grid and reduced carbon emissions. DTE’s goal is to achieve better grid reliability by 2029, she said.

However, these investments will require funding beyond what DTE has already asked the commission for — approximately $9 billion in investment in the grid and $7 billion in investment in clean energy between 2024 and 2028, according to Crozier.

“We appreciate that we are asking our customers to support these investments in the form of bill increases,” Crozier’s written testimony reads. “However … we believe that these investments will generate significant benefits and value to our customers.”

The Citizens Utility Board of Michigan, the Michigan Environmental Council, and the City of Ann Arbor have also petitioned to intervene in the case. The Michigan Public Service Commission will hold a prehearing on April 26 to consider DTE’s rate hike request. If approved, the increase would take effect in January 2025.

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