Rate increases are nothing new for electricity customers to bear. DTE Energy customers are no different, and there are a number of groups unhappy about the latest proposed increase, per a report from Sarah Cwiek of MichiganRadio.org.
Per its rate case filed last July, DTE seeks to raise rates an average of 9 percent across all residential customer groups and raise an additional $231 million annually for “continued infrastructure improvement.” Groups who protested outside of a DTE customer service center in Detroit last week say that the proposal would affect low-income customers the most.
Per Cwiek’s report:
But one [customer] group, getting service at a special low income pilot rate, could see rates rise as much as 45-percent. And across the board, the company is requesting higher rate increases for customers who use the smallest amounts of energy in each rate category.
Nicole Hill, an activist with the Work for Me DTE campaign, says the proposed pricing scheme is regressive and will punish people who try to use as little energy as possible.
“They’re actually punishing people for doing what they request, which is conserving energy,” Hill said. “And it’s going to just widen that gap between people that can afford their bills, and people that can’t.”
The groups also argue that DTE’s plan for grid upgrades favors areas with the most economic activity, rather than communities with the greatest infrastructure needs. They’re also upset about a proposed rider that would change how DTE charges customers who produce solar energy, effectively making it more expensive and expanding the time needed for residential solar systems to pay for themselves.
A DTE spokesperson suggested to MichiganRadio.org’s Cwiek that the protesters are more concerned about the company’s proposed solar rider, saying that the rider is an effort to get solar customers to pay their “fair share” for supporting the grid.
Cwiek reports that DTE hopes to have its new rate in effect by May. However, any rate increase must be approved by the state’s Public Service Commission.
While you sit and wonder whether that rate increase kicks in, know that customers can insulate themselves from rate increases by going solar at their homes. Why pay the power company when you can generate clean, renewable energy for your home yourself?
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