Capital Catch-Up: October 10, 2022
MPSC Orders Third-Party Audit of DTE, Consumers Energy Service
The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) announced a third-party audit of Consumers Energy and DTE Energy as a result of consumer complaints on the utilities’ response to August’s widespread power outages and downed lines. MPSC Chair Dan Scripps explained the audit – to be completed by November 4 – will be an independent review of DTE and Consumer Energy’s infrastructure, programs and processes.
These actions represent a new approach to the MPSC’s work to hold the state’s two largest electric utilities to account for persistent reliability and safety challenges.” – MPSC Chair Dan Scripps
The MPSC’s audit establishes a new posture for MI energy utilities moving forward – a move we heartily endorse.
This past August 22 Michigan LCV lined up with the public in Detroit demanding that the PSC hold DTE accountable for better service, and more affordable, renewable energy.
In recent years, Michigan LCV has called attention to the two energy utilities’ lack of timely responses to power outages that left customers across the state without power for days at a time. Such power outages have happened for years – including amid the global pandemic – endangering the health and livelihood of Michiganders. Michigan faces some of the nation’s highest energy rates, while having the most outages per capita in the country.
Utilities have focused their grid reliability efforts on tree trimming and tree removal; an approach that is not only insufficient, but one that also diminishes property values, community climate resilience, and disproportionally impacts BIPOC neighborhoods with typically sparse tree canopy cover.
Compounding the issue, DTE has been found to have engaged in “utility redlining” – the utility company “has generally disinvested in low-income and minority neighborhoods, and spends more resources on improving service in whiter, wealthier areas.
Despite their troubled track records, DTE and Consumers shareholders continue to profit and the companies continue to increase energy rates – DTE Energy has increased rates four times over the last five years to the tune of $775 million – with little systemic service improvement.
The bottom line: Michigan’s major utilities continue to rake in millions of dollars in profit while their customers suffer the consequences of decades of inadequate grid investment. It’s time for corporate profits to take a backseat to system performance and reliability.
In August, Michigan LCV joined a rally at a Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) hearing organized by the Defend Black Voters. More than 200 people turned out to voice their opposition to DTE proposed rate increases, and called for a faster transition to renewable energy sources over the next five years.
DTE recently filed their proposed integrated resource plan with the Public Service Commission which will be adjudicated in a contested case over the next year. MLCV and partner advocates will work for lower rates, more renewable energy, and a transition away from coal fired power.
EGLE Considers Permits for Grand River Revitalization Project
Grand Rapids Whitewater (GRWW) recently filed a permit with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) aimed at improving recreational opportunities and access to the Grand River in downtown Grand Rapids. On the whole, the proposed project seeks to increase public safety, equitable access to the river and catalyze economic growth in the community while restoring rapids to the river and improving fish passage and spawning habitat for State-threatened Lake Sturgeon. See Michigan LCV and West Michigan Environmental Action Council’s joint comment.
In the lower reach project area, looking south from the Gillett Pedestrian Bridge.
The first phase of project construction will impact a 1/2-mile stretch of the Grand River in downtown Grand Rapids; the project envisions a more vibrant and accessible waterway. The permit application for this first phase of the project asks the state of MI for permission to:
- Remove four existing concrete low-head dams, and install rock grade control structures with wave and riffle features from Devos Place to Fulton Street.
- Excavate more than 14,000 cubic yards of material below the Ordinary High Water Mark (OHWM) and within the 100-year floodplain
- Place nearly 30,000 cubic yards of fill below the OHWM and within the 100-year floodplain
In the lower reach project area looking South on the Blue Bridge from the East bank of the Grand River. Human activity has altered the flow of the river greatly in downtown Grand Rapids for more than 100 years.
The proposed improvements are part of a larger, regional, watershed-wide vision that will lead to a healthier waterway that is more accessible to surrounding communities for recreation, fishing, and more. Michigan LCV believes that vibrant communities require equitable access to a healthy surrounding environment and watersheds, and recreational opportunities for everyone, and that efforts to revitalize this stretch of the Grand River will help connect people directly to the river, providing social, cultural, and economic opportunities for the Grand Rapids community.
The Grand River looking south towards the Lower Reach project area from Canal Park.
Help Us Reach a Conservation Majority in Michigan!
Michigan LCV needs you to help us achieve a conservation majority in the Michigan Legislature. Join us at one of our next canvasses!
Canvass for Darrin Camilleri and Reggie Miller
Oct 11 from 3-6 pm
Phonebank for Jenn Hill
Oct 13 from 5:30-8 pm
Canvass for Jennifer Conlin
Oct 14 from 3-6 pm
Ann Arbor, MI
Canvass for Governor Whitmer and Promote the Vote Prop 2
Oct 15 from 11am-2pm
Stay tuned for future volunteer opportunities in your area!