Hold DTE Accountable

Eden Bloom
5 min readMar 10, 2023

Earlier this week I wrote to Michigan State Rep. Helena Scott and wanted to post an operable update with ways to engage. Thanks to those who have been pushing on this. ~E

March 9, 2017 on Detroit’s Eastside — Photo Credit: Eden Bloom

DTE Accountability

We the People, Michigan are a statewide coalition leading the fight against DTE. Earlier this week, they made a call to contact Rep. Helena Scott, Chair of the Energy, Communications, and Technology Committee and demand a Public Hearing with DTE. Here are opportunities for Detroiters to get engaged and hold DTE accountable.

DTE Public Hearing — Energy, Communications, and Technology Committee

Update from Rep Scott: A Public Hearing with DTE, Consumers, and the Michigan Public Service Commission on Wednesday, March 15th from 8:30am-10:30am in the Energy, Communications, and Technology Committee. You can watch the hearing by visiting the Michigan House of Representatives web page link: https://www.house.mi.gov/Calendar (Find Energy, Communications, and Technology Committee[1] and click link to watch)

Michigan Public Service Commission Town Halls

Also the Michigan Public Service Commission has scheduled a series of public town hall meetings to hear from those impacted by power outages that left hundreds of thousands of Michiganders without electricity after recent ice and snow storms across the Lower Peninsula.

The MPSC will hold two in-person town halls in areas hard hit by the ice storm on March 20, from noon to 2:30 p.m. at American 1 Credit Union Event Center, 128 W. Ganson St. in Jackson, and again from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Fordson High School’s auditorium, 13800 Ford Road in Dearborn.

The MPSC also will hold a virtual town hall meeting, livestreamed over Microsoft Teams, March 21, 6–8 p.m. A link to participate through Microsoft Teams will be posted closer to the day of the virtual town hall at the event’s webpage. https://www.michigan.gov/mpsc/commission/events/2023/03/21/virtual-town-hall---electric-outages

In addition to attending the in-person or virtual town halls, written comments also may be submitted to the MPSC by mail to Executive Secretary, Michigan Public Service Commission, P.O. Box 30221, Lansing, MI 48909, or by email to mpscedockets@michigan.gov.

About the Michigan Public Service Commission

The Commission is composed of three members appointed by the Governor to serve staggered six-year terms. No more than two Commissioners may represent the same political party. One commissioner is designated as chairman by the Governor.

Dan Scripps was appointed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer to the Michigan Public Service Commission on February 21, 2019 and was designated as Chair in July 2020. His term ends July 2, 2023. Mr. Scripps has been an active participant in a number of state energy advisory groups, including the Upper Peninsula Energy Task Force, the Michigan Dam Safety Task Force, and the Michigan Council on Climate Solutions. Contact the Commissioners at mpsc_commissioners@michigan.gov.

Tremaine L. Phillips was appointed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer to the Michigan Public Service Commission on September 9, 2019. His term ends on July 2, 2025.Prior to his appointment, Commissioner Phillips worked in the public and private sectors to accelerate the nation’s transition to clean, renewable, and reliable energy resources. Most recently, he served as the Director of Cincinnati 2030 District, leading the organization to become one of the largest and most engaged 2030 Districts in the country. Contact the Commissioners at mpsc_commissioners@michigan.gov.

Katherine L Peretick was appointed to the Michigan Public Service Commission by Governor Gretchen Whitmer on January 4, 2021, and reappointed on July 3, 2021. Her term ends July 2, 2027. Ms. Peretick is a member of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) and serves on NARUC’s Committee on Electricity, and Subcommittee on Nuclear Issues-Waste Disposal. She also serves on the DOE-NARUC Nuclear Energy Partnership. In August 2022 she became chair of the NARUC Electric Vehicles State Working Group, leading the conversation on regulatory topics for electric vehicles and EV charging. Contact the Commissioners at mpsc_commissioners@michigan.gov.

About DTE

From The Public’s Case Against DTE Energy by WE THE PEOPLE MICHIGAN, Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition (MEJC) and LittleSis.

The DTE investor-owned utility is profit-obsessed while Michiganders bear the brunt of its diminished service. The company has perpetuated punitive utility shutoffs under the guise of helping consumers not rack up bills, increased rates generating $774 million in the last 5 years, and allowed extended power outages because of disinvestment.[2]

DTE’s rate of shutoffs outpaces any other Michigan utility company. With two million customers, the majority in Southeast Michigan, DTE disconnected electric accounts 1.2 million times from 2013–2019.[3]

Since 2015, DTE increased rates to consumers generating $774 million,3 the second highest rate of increase of any investor-owned utility in the country.[4]

DTE has a track record of long and frequent blackouts — often leaving customers in the dark for more minutes per year than any other investor-owned utility in Michigan. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gives Michigan’s energy infrastructure a C- grade rating due to “aging infrastructure, lack of investment to preserve function.”[5]

Health costs imposed by DTE’s energy generation are high relative to other utilities. DTE has historically used a much higher proportion of coal for electricity generation, relative to other fuels — 60 percent. DTE-imposed health costs are not equally distributed. Black, Brown, immigrant, and low-income communities breathe in the worst effects of the Trenton and River Rouge coal-fired power plants[6].

The Detroit News recently reported that DTE and Consumers Energy had made campaign contributions to 140 out of 146 Michigan lawmakers, or 96% of the members of the state legislature in recent years[7]. This was part of the two utilities’ $55 million in political and civic spending between 2017 and 2020. Political spending allows DTE to influence legislation that could impact their corporate profits in general, but the contributions are often strategically timed.

[1]Energy, Communications, and Technology Committee Member email list: JoeyAndrews@house.mi.gov; PaulineWendzel@house.mi.gov; kevincoleman@house.mi.gov; karenwhitsett@house.mi.gov; cynthianeeley@house.mi.gov; ErinByrnes@house.mi.gov; JaimeChurches@house.mi.gov; JennHill@house.mi.gov; SharonMacDonell@house.mi.gov; MikeMcFall@house.mi.gov; PatOutman@house.mi.gov; JosephAragona@house.mi.gov; BrianBeGole@house.mi.gov; JaimeGreene@house.mi.gov; DavePrestin@house.mi.gov; helenascott@house.mi.gov

[2] Keith Matheny. (2019). DTE Energy rate hikes among biggest in country — as reliability still lags. Detroit Free Press. https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2019/08/05 /dte-energy-electric-rate-hikes/1900782001/

[3] Sarah Alvarez and Agnel Philip. (2022). Lights Out: Profitable Utility Company Shut Off Electricity to Homes Hundreds of Thousands of Times. Outlier Media with ProPublica. https://www.propublica.org/article/lights-out-profitable-utility-company-shut-off-electricity-to-homes-hundreds-of-thousands-of-times

[4] Tom Perkins. (2021). DTE Energy, other Michigan utilities capture pandemic windfall. Planet Detroit. https://planetdetroit.org/2021/03/dte-energy-other-michigan-u tilities-capture-pandemic-windfall/

[5] 2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure. American Society of Civil Engineers https://infrastructurereportcard.org/

[6] https://ourpowermi.org/research/health-impact-assessment/

[7] Craig Mauger. Michigan utilities spent millions electing lawmakers who could probe outages. Detroit News, August 29, 2021. https://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/politics/2021/08/30/michigan-utilities-spent-millions-electing-lawmakers-who-could-probe-outages/5601033001/