Michigan AG intervenes in DTE rate case requesting $195 million increase

Michigan's Attorney General is intervening in another rate case filed by the utility company DTE Gas after they requested an annual increase of almost $200 million.

FILE -A burner on a stove emits blue flames from natural gas. (Photo Illustration by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

The increase represents an 11% increase for residential customers, a press release from Dana Nessel's office said.

The utility company's most recent increase was approved for $110 million by the Michigan Public Service Commission last August. 

"My priority is making sure that all Michiganders are able to keep the heat on in their homes, which is crucially important during times of intense cold like we are currently experiencing," Nessel said. 

DTE requests $195 million

DTE submitted the request for a $195 million increase Feb. 9, filings with the MPSC show.

The company says its request for increased rates will pay for "extensive" infrastructure investments, increased operation and maintenance expenses, and lower expected revenue.

About $38 million of the rate increase has already been included in an "infrastructure surcharge," the request for additional dollars reflected in an increase in customer rates comes to $157 million. 

Of the total increase, a third is related to revenue from investments and property taxes. About $82 million is related to operation and maintenance, while another $20 million is linked to revenue decreases from transportation and revenue.

The company acknowledges that while COVID-19 has put a financial burden on customers, the cost of "inadequate rates" would cause a significant impact on the company's ability to service energy users. More dollars would go to financing infrastructure costs and be diverted away from maintenance.

In her press release Thursday, Nessel said the increase in rates of even "small monthly" expenses could have a "tremendous impact on a family's budget."

"...my team and I will carefully examine all parts of DTE’s filing and recommend against any excessive or unnecessary requests."

2020 settlement

DTE's last approved rate increase for natural gas customers was in August of 2020 when the public service commission authorized a $110 million increase - or an increase of 4.7 percent rate increase for residential customers.

The utility company originally asked for $203.8 million. In addition to the approval:

  • DTE agreed to make a $1 million donation to The Heat and Warmth Fund for households struggling to pay utility bills
  • Create an energy demand pilot program for next winter that increases the company's resilience during extreme sessions of cold temperature
  • Map out a 10-year natural gas plan to better prioritize future energy costs for the next few years.

On a separate front, DTE announced last year that it would hold off on increasing costs for its energy customers until 2022 as part of an agreement with the Michigan Public Service Commission.

The decision came as a way to help keep energy costs affordable during the pandemic.

DTE services natural gas to 1.3 million customers and electricity to 2.2 million