The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) approved Friday a $188.3 million rate increase for DTE Energy.
The 4.7% rate increase will begin affecting customers’ bills in June, adding about $7.15 to the average American household’s monthly bill, officials said.
The commission authorized the increase to support “new investments in critical infrastructure, particularly the electric distribution system, to support electrical safety and reliability,” officials said.
“The Commission does not take lightly its decision to authorize DTE to raise its rates but we are bound by law to issue a decision now,” said MPSC Chairman Sally Talberg. “There are pressing needs to upgrade aging infrastructure to ensure safe, reliable electric service.”
Officials say DTE Energy had originally requested a $351 million base rate increase -- a 9% increase to customers -- to contribute to its projected shortfall due to investments made in critical infrastructure facilities and increases in operation and maintenance expenses. MPSC staff, the Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, Michigan Environmental Council and many more intervened in the case to protect residents’ interests amid the national coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
"During this time of crisis we remain concerned about even a modest rate increase on residential customers, particularly given that they already shoulder disproportionately high electricity costs,” said Charlotte Jameson, Michigan Environmental Council program director for legislative affairs, energy and drinking water. “The Commission’s decision today stands in sharp contrast to the astounding 9% residential rate increase DTE originally asked for.”
Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, who represents Michigan’s 13th congressional district, issued a statement showing concern about DTE’s rate increase amid the pandemic.
“It’s outrageous that amidst a global pandemic where unemployment is at its highest level since the Great Depression, DTE has chosen to raise rates on Michiganders who are already struggling to make ends meet," Tlaib said. "I am very concerned that DTE is prioritizing enriching its shareholders over providing quality, affordable service to my residents.”
The Michigan Environmental Council also says April was the first month in U.S. history in which more renewable energy was used than coal. The commission’s ruling rejected DTE’s proposed fossil fuel expansion just after scientists confirmed air pollution is linked to higher COVID-19 death rates.