A look at recent state decision to temper DTE’s rate hike

Two journalists explain the similarities between large, investor-owned utility companies in different parts of the country.

DTE Headquarters in downtown Detroit.

DTE Headquarters in downtown Detroit.

A new DTE Energy rate increase will go into effect, but it’s not what was anticipated for consumers.

DTE had wanted an additional $388 million — an increase of 8.8% for households — in annual revenue to maintain the energy grid. But they didn’t get it. They were allowed a rate increase of less than one percent from a decision made by the Michigan Public Service Commission at a recent meeting.

That increase is the smallest approved for DTE in an electric rate case in at least a decade. The commission also directed the utility to offer more details about its low-income assistance program.

WDET is sponsored by DTE. In a comment to the show, DTE said that it’s focused on “improving reliability and maintaining affordability” for its customers. 

“There’s a voice for residential customers that didn’t exist even a decade ago.” — Tom Perkins, journalist

Listen: Why the service commission limited a rate increase suggested by DTE.



Tom Perkins is a freelance reporter for a variety of outlets, including the Metro Times, Slate, and the Guardian. He has written a lot about DTE and the ways Michigan’s largest corporate utilities have made life more difficult for customers. He says many different consumers advocate groups have rallied to protect consumers against high-rate hikes.

“There’s a voice for residential customers that didn’t exist even a decade ago,” says Perkins.

Katherine Blunt is a reporter for the Wall Street Journal and author of “California Burning: The Fall of Pacific Gas and Electric and What it Means for America’s Power Grid.” She says the utility regulator overseeing the California utility companies were under resourced to properly regulate PG&E.

“The regulators, they didn’t have the manpower and the money to really be able to dig into some of the safety issues that would become really front and center for PG&E,” says Blunt.

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