Michigan Officials Partially Strike Down DTE’s Controversial Rate Increase
The Michigan Public Service Commission partially struck down a controversial $328 million rate increase proposed by DTE Energy, approving only $125 million of the request. Residential ratepayers will bear most of the increase with a close to 4.8% increase in the average bill, while rates for commercial and industrial customers will increase by only 0.3%. The Commission also rejected a problematic fixed customer charge increase, DTE's poorly designed program for customers with rooftop solar installations, and excessive coal plant spending.
“We need to ensure customer dollars are spent on what customers want: cleaner and more affordable energy for all,” said Ariana Gonzalez, Senior Energy Policy Analyst with Natural Resources Defense Council. “Customers don’t want their money wasted on failing coal plants and baseless charges. This decision rejected much of those costs and will help push DTE to deliver the cleaner, more affordable energy options their customers are demanding.”
The Commission denied a fixed charge increase from $7.50 to $9.00 that would have disproportionately impacted low income customers and seniors on a fixed income. The Commission also importantly rejected an unjustified monthly charge for having distributed solar and supported the notion that the value extends well beyond what DTE proposed.
“Underserved communities in Michigan experience the bulk of the health consequences from the pollution produced by DTE and local industry and pay more than their fair share of DTE's costs," said Jodi Perras, Deputy Director for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal in Michigan. "This decision again raises utility bills for those who can least afford it, and we regret what that means for our friends in Detroit. The Commission is also telling DTE to stop overbuilding and overcharging customers for fossil fuel infrastructure that's not needed and that's harming our health and our planet. We will never stop working until all residents are breathing clean air."
“While it is unfortunate that DTE residential customers will continue to bear the brunt of a more limited rate increase in comparison to industrial and commercial customers, we thank the Commission for rejecting the most egregious and unnecessary costs,” said Michigan Environmental Council Energy Policy and Legislative Affairs Director Charlotte Jameson. “A more affordable and cleaner energy future is possible for DTE’s residential customers and we hope the Commission will continue to make decisions that move the company in that direction.”
Michigan Environmental Council (MEC), Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Sierra Club are co-intervenors represented by Olson, Bzdok & Howard and Earthjustice.