Lansing, MI - Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is once again calling on the two largest utility companies in the state to credit customers who continue to deal with power outages after severe weather.
Hundreds of thousands of customers throughout Consumer Energy and DTE Energy service areas suffered power outages last week after another round of storms moved through the state.
Both utilities have been working around the clock to restore power, but many customers have now gone several days without during hot and humid weather. As of 8:30 a.m. Monday morning, more than 67,000 customers across both utilities remained without power in Michigan.
In response to these extensive electric outages, Nessel is calling upon Consumers Energy and DTE Energy to voluntarily credit customers affected by the outages and to provide greater credits to assist customers who have lost hundreds of dollars or more in food and alternative housing costs. In addition, the Attorney General calls on these same utilities to create a fund to assist displaced customers during significant power outages such as those we are currently experiencing.
Summertime power outages are, unfortunately, nothing new for thousands across the state. Nessel raised these same concerns in a July 2019 letter to the former Chair of the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) – in response to storms that year – and continued with comments filed with MPSC in August 2019, March 2020, and August 2020.
Consistent through the letter and comments is the argument that Michigan utilities should make the outage credit automatic, increase the outage credit, create performance standards, and create some disaster program to help customer displaced by storms and electric outages. Despite Nessel’s repeated efforts to advocate for consumers, Michigan utilities rank in the bottom quartile of reliability when benchmarked against utilities around the country.
“The utility workers for Consumers Energy and DTE Energy are working hard to restore power, and I appreciate those who have worked tirelessly the last several days on behalf of the communities they serve, but these companies also need to work hard to restore trust with their customers,” Nessel said. “One way to restore confidence is to voluntarily adopt automatic outage credits and create a fund to assist customers displaced because of these increasingly frequent and powerful storms. We know that climate change is having a significant real impact, and a business-as-usual approach is no longer sufficient. That is why it's imperative that our utility companies adapt to the changing climate and needs of their thousands of customers. Consumers Energy and DTE must do better than this.”
Currently, to obtain an outage credit, a customer needs to file with their utility.