DTE rate hikes during 'peak times' • Chaotic vote approves $180 relief check • Controversial pig picture

DTE Energy is planning a time-of-day rate hike for electricity customers, charging homes a higher cost during a four-hour period the utility company says is its peak usage. 

Between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., customers will be charged extra for energy use.

A spokesperson for the company framed the change as giving customers more flexibility to lower rates by using energy during non-peak hours. 

"The Michigan Public Service Commission has instructed all utilities to adopt, to move to this type of a rate structure," said Angie Pizzuti. "And, we understand that customers won't be able to move all of their load out from 3 to 7, but there are discretionary things that they can move off-peak that will allow them to save money."

Consumers Energy made a similar decision recently, also moving to a peak time rate hike. 

The MPSC released a lengthy statement that said the utility company "will not make additional profit" from the rate changes. "The goal of time-based pricing is to align utility rates with the actual costs of producing it at different times."

"The time of use rates have been tested in pilot programs and have shown a reduction in peak demand during critical summer daytime peaks, and that saves customers money in the long term because utilities do not have to procure additional energy resources at their most expensive prices to produce," they continued. "These rates encourage an overall shift to spread electricity use over a greater number of hours, flattening the peak."

In crafting this policy, the commission said it worked with the state's largest utilities to conduct pilot programs to test if a pricing structure like this would work. 

The idea is that personal choices homeowners make can have an impact on the overall system. It's during peak hours when energy companies like DTE are pushed close to their maximum output. 

"For customers who are more cost-conscious, shifting consumption to off peak times can help lower electricity bills, while those who prioritize convenience pay costs more aligned with the impact on the system."

Read the MPSC's full statement here

House approves Whitmer's tax cut package despite opposition

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's tax cut package, which includes $180 "inflation relief" checks for taxpayers, was approved by the House on Thursday, despite struggles to get the votes.

The governor was not able to get all Democrats on board, and by 10 a.m. it was clear she did not have the votes, so the lobbying increased. At one point, five of Whitmer's lieutenants were on the floor, including her main lobbyist Curtis Hertel, trying to convince Democrats to vote for the package.

READ: What it will take for Michigan residents to get $180 'inflation relief' check

Whitmer joined in the lobbying effort making personal phone calls and in one case making a personal plea to a moderate Republican to vote yes. However, House GOP leader Matt Hall was telling his members that unless the governor agreed to roll back the income tax rate, his side would not give her any votes. Whitmer did not want to do that.

When it came time to vote, the package got the votes it needed, but was met with opposition and yelling. 

Child's drawing of pig called 'inappropriate' by school, mom says in viral TikTok

A mother in Michigan says her daughter's drawing of a pig was taken by school officials after it was deemed "inappropriate."

In a now viral TikTok video, Sierra Carter explains that she got a call from her 11-year-old daughter's art teacher after she drew a colorful picture of a pig wearing a bow tie. The drawing was titled "Piggie" and showed the pig waving and wagging its tail while saying "Hi." 

While it seems innocent enough, Carter says the concern from the teacher was that the bow tie resembled male genitalia. "I can't make this crap up," Carter captioned her TikTok video. She goes on to explain that "a little boy had come up to her (the teacher) and made her aware that he thought my daughter drew boy parts on her pig project." 

"I'm like 'I'm sorry my daughter is no Monet, but to her a bow tie is a bow and a tie.' And if another kid happened to look at it and think it was something else, that sounds more like a ‘he’ problem, not a ‘she’ problem."

Read more about the story here.

Sterling Heights Stellantis Plant to add more lactation rooms

The Stellantis plant in Sterling Heights will add more lactation rooms for breastfeeding mothers and make changes to its break policy following a federal investigation.

Complaints of inadequate access including one incident where a worker expressed breast milk on the factory floor after being denied access to the plant's breastfeeding rooms bubbled up into a federal probe. 

The U.S. Labor department said Stellantis plants forced nursing mothers to wait up to 20 minutes for an available room for breast milk. In Sterling Heights, at least 19 nursing moms shared just four one-person lactation rooms. 

Stellantis released a statement to FOX 2 saying: "Employee health and wellness is a top priority for Stellantis. We continually assess the need for additional dedicated lactation rooms in each of our locations. We are committed to providing a private, comfortable place for women to express milk."

How police tracked down teen missing since 2021, found hiding in Port Huron closet

A teenage runaway situation escalated into something much worse after police suspected a missing girl had become a victim of sexual abuse. The St. Clair County Sheriff's Office had followed up several leads before hitting roadblocks.

U.S. Marshals eventually recovered the missing 14-year-old girl. She was found hiding in a closet in a Port Huron home. The girl's mom is now under investigation because the girl was found to be several months pregnant. 

"This little girl was hiding in a closet under a pile of clothes," said Owen Cypher, US Marshal, Eastern District of Michigan. "Chances are she couldn't have hidden herself, how she was found, and there was probably somebody directing her."

The US Marshals – recently got involved - experts in locating, pretty much anyone. Their digging led to a flop house near North Boulevard and 32nd. Within a week of launching the investigation, they made contact with the folks living at the house. A search warrant was soon served.

Read more about the case here.

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Daily Forecast

Mild weather this weekend will make for easy viewing of the Super Bowl for all those who watch. Expect temperatures in the 30s and 40s this weekend with plenty of sunshine and little chance of precipitation.

What else we're watching

  1. A federal appeals court is expected to hear a case over a disputed painting created by Vincent van Gogh. It had been on display at the Detroit Institute of Art when a Brazilian art collector claimed a painting stolen from him was hanging in the exhibit.
  2. Ethan Crumbley is back in court Friday morning. The convicted teen shooter receives monthly check-ups with a judge over his wellbeing due to his incarceration in an adult jail in Oakland County. 
  3. Westland police are seeking input from the community over an indecent exposure case. Law enforcement is hoping the public can help identify a man who pulled his pants down in a Walgreens in December. 
  4. Among the drama that played out during a chaotic vote for the governor's tax plan was a lone Democrat who voted no. According to the Michigan Information Research Service, a representative turned down an offer by the state to retire remaining debt for the defunct Inkster School District in exchange for his yes vote. 
  5. The Royal Oak HopCat is expected to open this weekend to the public. Keep in mind, those who get in line first will be awarded with a year's worth of Cosmik fries. 

Mike Pence subpoenaed by special counsel investigating Trump, AP source says

Former Vice President Mike Pence has been subpoenaed by the special counsel overseeing investigations into efforts by former President Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the results of the 2020 election, according to a person with direct knowledge of the event.

The subpoena to Pence as part of the investigation by special counsel Jack Smith was served in recent days, according to the person, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Thursday to discuss a sensitive issue.

The extraordinary scenario of a former vice president potentially testifying against his former boss in a criminal investigation comes as Pence considers launching a 2024 Republican presidential bid against Trump. The two have been estranged since a mob of Trump's supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021, in an attempt to stop Democrat Joe Biden's victory.