MPSC approves agreement with DTE Electric to improve storm response, wire down safety. DTE's voluntary green pricing program approved

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   January 18, 2019

Contact: Nick Assendelft 517-284-8300
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LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) today approved an agreement with DTE Electric Co. that outlines efforts by the utility to bolster emergency storm response and fund public education and training about the hazards of downed electrical lines.

The agreement between the MPSC staff and DTE Electric (Case No. U-20169) concludes the Commission’s review of DTE’s response last spring to widespread weather-related outages.

Under the agreement, DTE Electric will:

  • Provide additional first responders to meet response times established in the Commission’s Administrative Rules.

  • Participate in an MPSC initiative to improve downed wire response processes.

  • Track the cause of downed power lines.

  • Provide $725,000 through 2020 to develop a program with the National Energy Foundation to educate kindergarten through fifth grade students on electricity hazards.

  • Provide $175,000 this year to the Michigan Fire Service Instructors Association to buy electrical safety equipment and train local fire departments.

  • Work to eliminate rear-lot power line hazards in Detroit.

  • Not recover program costs through customer rates.

The company will also report annually to the Commission on improvements in wire down response times, causes of downed power lines, how many students take part in the education program, actions to secure downed wires, progress in reducing the backlog of distribution system maintenance, and efforts to address rear-lot overhead wires.

The MPSC initiated this proceeding in May after concerns about the safety and reliability of the company’s electric distribution system following storms in March 2017 and May 2018. After the May storm, a woman came in contact with a live downed wire at the rear of a Detroit property, resulting in her death. The Commission’s proceeding examined the utility’s response to the storm and changes to improve safety.

DTE’s voluntary green pricing program approved

The MPSC today approved implementation of DTE Electric Co.’s Large Customer Voluntary Green Pricing Program (Case No. U-20343). This pilot program for large commercial and industrial customers augments the utility’s MIGreenPower pilot, which is primarily for residential and small business customers. In October, the Commission ruled it would evaluate DTE Electric’s application to revise MIGreenPower the voluntary green pricing (VGP) program or propose a replacement, as well as offer another customer option.

Public Act 342 of 2016 requires electric providers to offer a VGP program.

Members of the large customer program can increase by 5 percentage point increments the amount of electricity they get from renewable energy. Customers will pay a subscription fee and must commit to five-, 10-, or 20-year contracts. DTE Electric said power for the program will be available in late 2020 and costs will be set when renewable energy projects come online, but customers can already enroll in the program.

Other rulings today

INDIANA MICHIGAN CREDIT B REFUND APPROVED: Indiana Michigan Power Co. (I&M) will refund $5,397,707 including interest to customers to reflect the lower corporate tax rate under the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2018 (Case No. U-20316). Residential customers who use 500 kilowatt hours of electricity a month will see a decrease on their February through July bills of $2.41. The refund, known as Credit B, is the second of three that return tax savings to ratepayers. I&M is the last utility to report Credit B refunds, bringing the total to $233,189,706. In the first round of refunds, known as Credit A, the MPSC ordered approximately $379.5 million be returned to ratepayers. The third refund, known as Calculation C, will account for long-term budgeted items and be announced later. In a related ruling, the MPSC approved a minor increase to $69,956,131 in Consumers Energy Co.’s Credit B total refund for electric customers (Case No. U-20286). Consumers in December was authorized to refund $69,678,486.

DTE ENERGY FILES NEW DATA SHARING AND PRIVACY POLICY: The Commission approved DTE Energy Co.’s customer data privacy tariff after changes were made to conform with the Commission’s Consumer Standards and Billing Practices for Electric and Natural Gas Service (Case No. U-18485). The tariff was rejected in October 2018 and has been revised to facilitate the ability of customers to access their energy consumption data and for customers to share that information with a third party. The changes can help customers obtain the necessary information to evaluate energy saving improvements or on-site renewable energy.   .

I&M GIVEN IRP FILING EXTENSION: Indiana Michigan Power Co. was given a new date to submit its integrated resource plan (IRP) with the MPSC (Case No. U-18461). I&M said it was developing a multistate plan and its deadline to file it with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission is May 1. The MPSC set June 14 as I&M’s new deadline for its Michigan filing .

For information about the MPSC, visit www.michigan.gov/mpsc, sign up for one of its listservs, or follow the Commission on Twitter. To watch a livestream of the MPSC’s meetings, click here.

DISCLAIMER: This document was prepared to aid the public’s understanding of certain matters before the Commission and is not intended to modify, supplement, or be a substitute for the Commission’s orders. The Commission’s orders are the official action of the Commission.

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