DTE, Consumers power outages renew push for automatic credit, more money for lost food

With thousands of Michigan residents still in the dark after Wednesday's ice storm, Attorney General Dana Nessel is pressuring DTE Energy and Consumers Energy to better help their customers after power outages.

Nessel wants the utility companies to provide automatic credits to customers who lose power. She also is calling for more substantial credits for people who have to throw out food after power outages or stay in hotels while their power is out.

MORE: How to apply for credit from DTE, Consumers

"While this ice storm appears to have been one of the worst we have seen in many years, winter weather is an expected occurrence in Michigan. Residents deserve a grid they can rely on," Nessel said. "Despite asking for record increases time and time again, our utilities have failed to adequately invest in their own infrastructure or prepare for these storm events, choosing instead to leave ratepayers in the dark. Our current service quality standards are not sufficient, and it is incumbent on the utilities to right this wrong." 

Nessel also wants metrics to be set that would include penalties to ensure that power is reliable. 

Read: DTE gets $30.5M rate increase approved

In March 2022, the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) determined that "[r]atepayers have a right to expect the utilities to anticipate extreme weather events, to provide a hardened grid that can withstand extreme weather, and to be prepared to restore power expediently when the grid fails," she said.

Electric customers are currently eligible for a $25 credit if certain conditions are met:

  • An outage of more than 120 hours under "catastrophic conditions" which include events that result in either an official state of emergency or an event that interrupts power for more than 10%of the utility
  • An outage of more than 16 hours under non-catastrophic conditions
  • Eight or more outages within a 12-monthperiod. Once credit is received, the 12-month period resets.

Customers typically have to apply for this credit. However, DTE said it would be processing claims for people who were without power for 96 or more hours automatically in this case. They'll get a $35 credit.