DETROIT – DTE Energy announced Thursday that electric rates will remain unchanged until 2022 amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Michigan Public Service Commission (MSPC) approved a regulatory plan on Thursday that will maintain current electric rates for DTE customers.
“Today’s decision will allow DTE to continue to prioritize affordability for our customers as the communities we serve recover from the public health impacts and economic fallouts related to the pandemic,” said Trevor Lauer, president of the electric company at DTE Energy. “These approved plans will enable DTE to meet our commitment to clean, affordable renewable energy while, at the same time, keeping rates stable for our customers.”
The news comes after the MSPC previously approved a $188.3 million rate increase for DTE -- a 4.7 percent rate increase for DTE customers -- in early May. The average $7.14 monthly bill increase was slated to affect customers in June.
Officials say in May DTE originally requested a $351 million base rate increase -- a 9 percent increase for customers -- to help address its projected shortfall due to investments made in critical infrastructure facilities and increases in operation and maintenance expenses.
MSPC officials said the decision to increase rates for customers amid the pandemic wasn’t taken lightly, but there are still “pressing needs” to upgrade the state’s infrastructure.
Though DTE’s requested increase of $351 million was not approved, a number of Michigan officials and organizations expressed concern over any increase as customers face financial hardships due to 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,” said Congresswoman Rashia Tlaib in May. “I am very concerned that DTE is prioritizing enriching its shareholders over providing quality, affordable service to my residents.”
DTE also announced Thursday that MSPC approved its Renewable Energy Plan, which will establish additional wind and solar projects in Michigan by 2022.
“When operational, the new projects will annually offset 619,154 metric tons of C02e, equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions from 134,000 cars,” the announcement reads. “DTE is Michigan’s largest renewable energy producer and, when these projects are complete, the company will generate enough clean energy to power 620,000 homes.”
Officials say the company will invest an addition $2 billion in renewable energy assets over the next four years.
Consumers Energy also requested a rate increase of $244 million just ahead of the pandemic in February, which would result in a 14 percent increase for customers. The MSPC has not yet made a decision regarding Consumers Energy’s request.