August 24, 2021
LANSING - Following her calls last week for utility companies in the state to prioritize customers who dealt with extended power outages, Attorney General Dana Nessel has launched an online feedback initiative to collect resident and business outage experiences as she continues to advocate for Michigan consumers.
AG Nessel's August Power Outages Feedback form is now live online. Residents and business owners who experienced an extended power outage are encouraged to fill out the form, which collects information including the resident's utility company, how long the outage lasted and the financial loss suffered.
"As a state, we must put a heavier priority on examining our utility companies and how they adapt to the changing climate and needs of their millions of customers," Nessel said. "It remains unacceptable that Michigan residents have grown to expect power outages every time there's severe weather in the forecast. We can-and must-do better. I appreciate the public's help by providing my office with information on the hardships they faced during extended outages."
The feedback form will take less than five minutes to complete and will help the Department better understand the impact the extended outages had on consumers. Nessel is also in the process of planning a listening tour focused on the hardest hit areas around the state.
As Nessel shared Thursday afternoon, DTE Energy's proactive recognition of the challenges the latest outages created by automatically pushing up to $100 customer credits helps relieve some of the frustration, but those credits should serve as the beginning of actions to address these problems. Consumers Energy has since announced automatic credits up to $25.
Last Monday, Nessel called on DTE Energy and Consumers Energy to make consumer credits automatic instead of an application process, and to provide greater credits to assist customers who lost hundreds of dollars or more in food and alternative housing costs. In addition, the Attorney General called on the utilities to create a fund to assist displaced customers during significant power outages such as those we are currently experiencing.
As the state's top consumer advocate, Nessel has pushed for changes before the utilities' regulating body - the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) - since taking office. Similar concerns were raised in a July 2019 letter to the former MPSC Chair and continued with comments filed with MPSC in August 2019, March 2020, and August 2020.
Despite Nessel's repeated efforts, Michigan utilities rank in the bottom quartile of reliability when benchmarked against utilities around the country, which includes being among the worst in power restoration time.
The feedback form will remain on the Department's website. The public's input is greatly appreciated.