A state commission will take a hard look at DTE Energy’s past improper shutoffs.
The Michigan Public Service Commission will hold an evidentiary hearing against the company. During the hearing, DTE must explain the extent and reason for any improper shutoffs since January 2017. That’s to see if it violated any of the commission’s billing rules.
Nick Assendelft is a spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), the state agency that houses the commission. He says this hearing comes after reports that DTE’s new billing system was faulty.
“Especially this time of the year, in the winter time it is extremely critical that utilities follow proper billing rules and proper procedures in terms of shutoffs,” said Assendelft.
In a letter to the commission, DTE said it found a defect in its new billing system. That defect led to customers losing power without receiving all the required notices. DTE says it restored power to all 9,000 customers who got their power cut during that time, right after it learned of the error. About 5,000 customers lost power without proper notice.
Assendelft said the commission could fine DTE or have them change certain practices.
“What might be at stake here is depending on if there were determined to be any kind of violations what that might mean for DTE itself,” he said.
In a statement issued by DTE, the company said it, “Will further examine the areas of interest outlined by the Michigan Public Service Commission today, and file our testimony by the deadline of Feb. 23. Upgrading our customer systems throughout our enterprise is a tremendous undertaking that is central to our business operations.”
DTE also said their new system, “has safeguards in place to avoid these situations in the future.”
The evidentiary hearing doesn’t have a date scheduled yet.