Nearly 1 million Michiganders lost power from August storms as DTE, Consumers Energy were unprepared and ill-equipped
LANSING, Mich. – The cozy relationship Michigan’s utilities enjoy with lawmakers enshrining their monopolies – resulting in the highest electricity rates and lowest reliability in the Midwest – is fueled by millions in political and civic donations, as exposed by the Detroit News in an article today.
The article found 140 out of 146 Michigan lawmakers received some kind of campaign donation from DTE or Consumers Energy, while the monopoly utilities funneled $55 million to political and civic spending.
“When storms hit and Michigan utilities leave nearly 1 million people in the dark, it’s clear the status quo is unacceptable,” said Bob Allison, deputy director for the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. “Behind closed doors, the utilities continue to lobby against common-sense clean energy policies that would help lower the cost of electricity and improve reliability for customers. Michiganders deserve better, which is why DTE and Consumers Energy must be held fully accountable for their failures over the summer.”
Michigan LCV has called for a moratorium on residential electric rate hikes until independent investigations can look into why Michiganders suffer through more and longer outages than any other state in the Great Lakes region. The Michigan Public Service Commission has scheduled a hearing for Oct. 22, while a legislative hearing has been proposed but not scheduled, according to media reports.
According to the independent Citizens Utility Board of Michigan (CUB), an independent organization representing the interests of Michigan’s residential energy customers, Michigan utilities lag far behind other states in terms of reliability:
- Michigan utilities had the second-worst restoration time per outage in the nation – even on days without major storm events.
- In the Great Lakes region, Michiganders experienced the most amount of minutes out-of-power on average annually.
In the last five years, DTE Energy has increased rates to the tune of $775 million with little improvements to service, while Consumers Energy is currently proposing a $225 million rate increase – just months after they hiked our rates this past January.
While DTE had profits of $1.4 billion and Consumers Energy’s parent company, CMS, raking in $680 million, Michigan ratepayers are experiencing unreliable service. More than 800,000 Michiganders lost power during recent storms and the utilities are now saying customers will have to file paperwork to receive a small credit for their troubles.
Media reports show that DTE and Consumers Energy paid no federal taxes in 2020, with utility spokespersons saying it would ultimately trickle down into savings to customers. Last year, both Consumers Energy and DTE spent more than $10 million paying their CEOs.