Michigan PSC approves rate order in support of DTE Energy’s reliability upgrades

Published on December 05, 2023 by Dave Kovaleski

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The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) issued an order last week in support of DTE Energy’s roadmap to improved reliability.

DTE’s plan seeks to accelerate system upgrades with the goal of improving reliability for customers by more than 60 percent over the next five years. Over the past five years, DTE has invested more than $5 billion in its electric grid. This new ruling by the MPSC approves the company’s plan to invest an additional $9 billion, over the next five years.

The energy company said a DTE electric residential customer who uses 500 kilowatt hours will see an increase of about 9 cents per day, or $2.56 per month. This should keep all bill increases below the rate of inflation. It includes a reduction in fuel costs of $300 million in 2024, which helps offset customer bill increases while allowing investments to improve electric reliability.

“Based on the $300 million reduction in fuel and other costs we announced in November, our customers can expect to see a minimal impact on their electric bills as a result of today’s rate order,” Trevor Lauer, vice chairman and group president, DTE Energy, said. “Our customers demand and deserve improved electric reliability; the rate order will allow us to continue to invest in the grid as well as transition to cleaner energy.”

DTE’s approved four-point plan to reduce the frequency and duration of power outages, includes:

  1. Updating existing infrastructure through strategic investments in poles, wires, substations, transformers and upgrading the oldest circuits on the system to improve reliability.
  2. Rebuilding significant portions of the grid, which allows DTE to both increase safety and significantly increase reliability. During rebuilding, overhead equipment can be relocated underground where that makes sense. In addition, rebuilding increases capacity to support ever expanding electrification.
  3. Transitioning to a smart grid. With DTE’s Electric Systems Operations Center and recent launch of a grid management system, the company has laid the foundation of investing in smart grid technology. This technology will help DTE to quickly deploy crews to damaged areas and, in some cases, isolate the outage so power can be rerouted for customers while repairs are being made.
  4. Tree-trimming to improve reliability. DTE has trimmed more than 25,000 miles of trees over the last five years and will trim 5,000 miles more this year. By the end of 2025, the company will have trimmed every mile of its grid.

With today’s MPSC order, the average DTE electric residential customer bill would increase about 1.2 percent per year from May 2020. That is below the Consumer Price Index average annual increase of 5.5 percent and below regional and national averages. Since DTE’s base electric rates were last increased in May 2020, the Great Lakes region – Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, and Wisconsin – and national residential bills have increased on average by 5.3 percent and 6.5 percent per year, respectively.

DTE Energy serves 2.3 million electric customers in Southeast Michigan and 1.3 million natural gas customers in Michigan.