From the May-June issue of News & Letters
“You’ve heard of a POWER OUTAGE—we are calling for a PAYMENT OUTAGE.” A flyer circulated by Detroit activists responds to the one-two punch of more frequent and longer-lasting widespread power outages AND an eight percent rate increase request by DTE Energy (the gas and electric supplier for Detroit and the surrounding suburbs.)
In protest, activists are asking customers to defer their July payment until their August bill is due and pay both amounts by the August due date. That way, they will not be at risk of a shut-off.
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DTE Energy claims it needs the rate increase to repair the electric grid. “Still, the grids aren’t fixed…[T]he only way the energy companies will listen is to affect their revenue, the way they affect our income.” Adding insult to injury, DTE residential customers were informed they will be paying “Time-of-Day Rates.” The new basic rate is 15.45 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), but between three pm and seven pm, rates will increase by a little more than one cent per kWh from October to May, and between June and September by 5.5 cents per kWh.
DTE markets this increase as “More Choice, More Control” because demand on the electric grid is growing. In small print their notice adds that residential customers currently pay 17–18.6 cents per kWh and that DTE will not profit from this change.
DTE is requesting a rate increase of $622 million, three months after their most recent request was turned down. The increase would cost residential customers an average of $12.50 per month. DTE, like many utilities, did not raise rates during the pandemic, but has made record profits in recent years.
–Susan Van Gelder