Utilities shelled out over $23k to those responsible for investigating their failed responses to summer power outages
LANSING, Mich. – Michigan’s monopoly utilities continue to shell out millions of dollars in contributions to maintain the status quo where electricity rates skyrocket and customers suffer through frequent outages as lawmakers look the other way.
This cozy relationship, exposed in a new Detroit News article today, results in Michiganders paying the highest electricity rates in the Midwest while experiencing the longest time without power of any state in the Great Lakes region, according to independent studies.
According to the article, the latest campaign finance reports revealed DTE and Consumers’ PACs gave $23,250 to 11 out of 16 members of the House Energy Committee within the five-week period before their oversight hearings this fall and immediately following widespread outages on September 7. Six of the 16 reported receiving $1,000 contributions from DTE’s PAC just five days before the committee hearing featuring one of the company’s top executives.
Meanwhile, House Bill 4236, common-sense legislation to remove barriers for more affordable, reliable rooftop solar projects languishes and remains blocked in the House Energy Committee amid opposition by the utilities.
“DTE and Consumers’ cozy relationship with lawmakers is detrimental to Michiganders and will continue to be a problem — since neither have yet to be held accountable for leaving nearly 1 million people in the dark this summer,” said Bob Allison, deputy director for the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. “The utilities and their lobbyists shelled out $55 million over the past five years to protect this broken status quo while lawmakers on House Energy simply take their money, ask them softball questions and turn a blind eye to the financial struggles that Michigan families and businesses are facing by paying the highest electricity rates in the Midwest. Michiganders deserve better. Who is going to hold DTE and Consumers Energy accountable for their failures? We demand that all lawmakers uphold the integrity of the investigation, regardless of how much money they’ve given them.”
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 held a technical conference on power outages and emergency response on Oct. 22. A second conference is scheduled for Nov. 5.
The Citizens Utility Board of Michigan, an independent organization representing the interests of Michigan’s residential energy customers revealed in a 2020 report that Michigan utilities had the second-worst restoration time per outage in the nation – even on days without major storm events – and Michiganders experienced the most amount of minutes out-of-power on average annually.