DTE takes first step toward rate increase, says it didn't request hike during Covid pandemic

DTE took the first step Tuesday to request a rate increase during a hearing with the Michigan Public Service Commission.

These hearings are held to determine the amounts to charge customers through rates. For the next 10 months, DTE will push for a rate hike and present its case for why it should be approved. 

DTE has argued that it continued to put billions of dollars worth of upgrades into the power grid while not raising rates during the Covid pandemic. 

The first hearing comes after two back-to-back power outages that impacted hundreds of thousands of the company's customers in Southeast Michigan.

DTE also recently began implementing time-of-day rates, a pricing model that charges customers a different rate depending on when they use power. The company said it doesn't believe bills will increase with time-of-day pricing, though it has received pushback from some customers. 

Related: DTE Energy rolls out time-of-day rates

The next steps in the rate approval process include a cross-examination and testimony from DTE and other participating groups in July, briefings in August and September, and a proposal for decision in October. Exceptions to that proposal will come at the end of October and early November.

Then, the Public Service Commission will decide on an increase afterward. 

DTE released a statement about requested rate hikes:

"DTE’s Electric Company intentionally did not request a base rate increase during the COVID pandemic to assist customers with affordability during uncertain times. Over the same period, since 2020, the company invested more than $8 billion into the electrical system that generates and transmits electricity to 2.3 million households and businesses. All this was done while keeping base rates nearly flat for customers.  

In order to continue to make the progress that customers and the Michigan Public Service Commission expect, and to deal with continued inflation and material cost increases, and increasingly severe weather events, DTE needed to file a rate case. 

"In our current rate review, we are responding to what customers are asking for– more investments in energy infrastructure to improve the grid, and transition to low carbon energy sources.  Any actual rate increase will not be ordered by the MPSC until the Commission completes its review near the end of this year."