Rashida Tlaib critical of DTE after 260K lose power in Monday storm; wants proposed rate increase stopped

More than a quarter of a million DTE customers are without power Tuesday morning after a powerful storm on Monday knocked 10% of DTE's customers in Southeast Michigan. Rep. Rashida Tlaib used her social media page to be critical of the utility company.

More than 265,000 DTE customers were left without power, as of 10 a.m. on Tuesday after the severe weather that included wind gusts strong enough to create a tornado knocked down wires and disrupted electricity around the region.

As of 9:25 a.m., there were 1,890 crews in the field. Much of the outages were reserved for south I-69 and dispersed throughout the tri-county area. DTE said in a tweet Monday that it had "mobilized" 220 storm teams to "quickly" address the outages that sparked from the storms. Repairs were to begin once it was safe to do so. 

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There was no estimated time of restoration, according to DTE. 

As with any wide scale outages, DTE warned anyone to avoid downed wires over fears it could electrocute someone. Authorities in Monroe County confirmed one 14-year-old died after touching a live wire.

The number of affected customers of Consumers Energy was less than half of DTE's total. Many of those without power were west in Jackson, Calhoun, Ingham, and Eaton County. 

Tlaib, however, wants more to be done, especially as DTE is asking for another rate increase. The Democratic representative from the 12th District said "DTE Energy has the highest rates in the nation & among the most unreliable". 

She then called on the Michigan Public Service Commission, which decides on the rates of utility companies in the state, stop DTE's ‘unjust rate increases’.

DTE is seeking to raise another $388 million through rate increases. The proposed increase would cost consumers an additional $10.81 per month, if the PSC signs off. DTE says the money is needed to improve infrastructure.

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The PSC hosted a commission meeting on Aug. 22, which was attended by roughly 250 people who were critical of the proposed increase. Among those was Tlaib.

"You serve us, the public, just remember that because the corporations will always put the shareholders first," Tlaib said.

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At that meeting, DTE said it was in support of the process and that it was the first time the company had sought an increase in three years.

"When new rates are approved by the commission it will be nearly three years since the last base rate increase. The affordability of our service is a priority for us. Currently, DTE customers’ bills are below the national average and that remains our goal."  

The Public Service Commission has until mid-November to approve or deny DTE’s proposed rate increase. If there is no decision by then, by law DTE will get what it wants.

Representative Rashida Tlaib, a Democrat from Michigan, speaks during a House Financial Services Committee hearing with Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer and founder of Facebook Inc., in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019. Zuc