State regulators approve $30.5M DTE rate hike

State regulators on Friday approved a rate hike from the state’s largest electric utility.

The Michigan Public Service Commission authorized a $30.5 million rate increase for DTE Electric Company. That amounts to an additional 71 cents on monthly bills for a residential customer who uses 500 kilowatt hours of electricity.

DTE, which serves 2.3 million customers in southeast Michigan, originally requested a 8.8% rate increase — or $388 million in additional revenue — to make investments and improve its electric service.

The approval comes after about 200 people across the state packed a public hearing in August overwhelmingly demanding the commission reject DTE’s proposal. Power outages shortly after, from a storm in metro Detroit, fueled demands among elected officials and advocates to say no to the increase.

“The Commission found that, despite DTE Electric’s previous projections of declining electric use among its residential customers, residential electric sales surged in 2020 and increased again in 2021, even as many Michiganders returned to working from their places of employment and resumed pre-COVID activities,” according to a Friday news release from the MPSC.

Here are a few items included in the commission’s approval:

  • $14.8 million for storm restoration operations and maintenance over five years
  • $103.9 million for tree trimming, along with $67 million in 2023 and $52.7 million in 2024 to speed up the tree trimming
  • DTE has to file a report within 120 days detailing the company’s approach to enrolling customers in its Low-Income Assistance program and how many people are in that program from 2021 to 2022.

DTE’s most recent rate increase was in May 2020. The MPSC approved a $188 million hike. The electric company had initially requested $351 million.

Nushrat Rahman covers issues related to economic mobility for the Detroit Free Press and BridgeDetroit as a corps member with Report for America, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project. Make a tax-deductible contribution to support her work at bit.ly/freepRFA.

Nushrat Rahman covers issues related to economic mobility for the Detroit Free Press and BridgeDetroit as a corps member with Report for America, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project.
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