Michigan lawmakers grill DTE Energy, Consumers over power outages

Lawmakers to host town halls to discuss power outages

LANSNG, Mich. – After hundreds of thousands of customers spent days and even more than a week without power over the past month, it was time to face the music for DTE Energy and Consumers Energy.

Executives heard from frustrated legislators who wondered how to prevent these kinds of serious outages and the fallout from them in the future.

DTE President and Chief Operating Officer Trevor Lauer were in Lansing to answer questions during the hearing.

Offering an apology to customers and legislators for what transpired over the past month, Lauer made it clear the last storm they experienced was the worst his company’s ever seen. The $35 bill credit many view as inadequate is really a penalty imposed on DTE by the MPSC.

Related: Many DTE Energy customers found $35 power outage credit insulting -- here’s what the CEO had to say

“We will work closely with the MPSC and others as we evaluate credits, but I can’t emphasize enough the answer to this is to invest in the system,” Lauer said.

Legislators asked question after question about DTE having made a billion dollars last year, putting shareholders ahead of customers, not investing enough in infrastructure and making the grid stronger and smarter.

“There is no amount of electrical engineering that’s gonna keep our electrical system with 3/4 of ice. We must do better with the weather we have coming at us,” Lauer said.

MPSC Commissioner Katherine Peretick said for all that, change is immediately needed.

Because of past storms, the MPSC now has changes coming, like requiring the utilities to restore power more quickly, and instead of $35 per storm as a credit, it would become $35 a day.

The Michigan Public Service Commission is going to be holding town hall-style hearings across the state in the next week for those impacted by the power outages. The Dearborn meeting is scheduled for Monday at 5:30 PM at the Fordson High School auditorium.

About the Authors:

Rod Meloni is an Emmy Award-winning Business Editor on Local 4 News and a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional.

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.