Oversight hearings of Michigan’s utilities critical after nearly a million left in the dark again
Outages come as DTE asks for historic rate hikes on customers, touts its record profit of $1.1 billion
LANSING – With tens of thousands of Michiganders still without power following last week’s ice storm, the Michigan League of Conservation Voters is calling on legislators to swiftly conduct oversight hearings to investigate how the state’s utilities have once again failed customers.
Nearly a million people across Michigan have spent multiple days without power and the latest outage continues the state’s pattern of having the most expensive rates for the worst service.
The outages come as severe weather threatens Michigan yet again this week. DTE recently requested the largest rate hike in state history – $622 million – while reporting profits from the past year of $1.1 billion.
“The irony is lost on no one that while Michiganders shivered in their homes and tossed out medicine and food, DTE was submitting paperwork to jack up our rates yet again – because massive rate hikes, massive profits and massive campaign donations are the calling card of DTE,” said Bob Allison, deputy director for the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. “Our outdated, broken energy grid is the direct result of money flowing for years to the pockets of their CEOs versus investing in improving the service we receive. Power outages have real consequences to people’s health, and these have become too commonplace and widespread in Michigan – we have reached a tipping point.”
FACTS: A recent piece by ProPublica found DTE was shutting off service to tens of thousands of customers while the utility was among a list of recipients receiving hundreds of millions in COVID relief dollars from the federal government.
Media reports have shown that DTE didn’t pay federal taxes in 2020, with utility spokespersons saying it would ultimately trickle down into savings to customers. Two years ago, both Consumers Energy and DTE spent more than $10 million paying their CEOs.
The Detroit News exposed that 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.