MPSC concludes its investigation into DTE billing practices
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 21, 2019
LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Public Service Commission today completed its investigation of issues surrounding DTE Energy Co.’s new billing system. The examination was prompted by customer concerns over incorrect shutoffs and statements.
Shortly after DTE started using SAP Customer 360 in 2017, MPSC Staff received numerous complaints through its Customer Assistance Division about improper shutoffs and billing errors. In December 2017, the MPSC opened an investigation (Case No. U-18486), followed by a February 2018 show cause order (Case No. U-20084) to determine how widespread the problems were and whether DTE was resolving them properly and promptly.
In December 2018, the MPSC approved a settlement that fined DTE $840,000 for violating the Commission’s Consumer Standards and Billing Practices for Electric and Natural Gas Service. The Commission also ordered the utility to submit a final report within 60 days detailing its implementation of SAP Customer 360 and identifying steps for improvement.
DTE’s report, which was submitted on Feb. 18, acknowledged system-related problems that included erroneous shutoffs, delayed or incorrect billings, and inappropriate consecutive estimated bills. The company said in the report that it continues to address issues with its BudgetWise Billing program, collective invoicing, and assessing duplicate reconnection fees for some natural gas customers.
MPSC staff and DTE meet weekly on the remaining issues.
Customers who have unresolved complaints with their local utility can call the MPSC’s Customer Assistance hotline at (800) 292-9555 or file a complaint online.
DTE ELECTRIC CUSTOMERS DUE REFUNDS AFTER RATE INCREASE LOWERED
DTE Electric Co. will return a total of $27,197,106 to customers in two credits on their May and June bills (Case No. U-20258). A residential customer who uses 500 kilowatt hours of power a month will see a decrease of $3.65. DTE Electric legally self-implemented a $125 million rate increase in November 2017, but the Commission afterward approved increases totaling $74.4 million. By law, DTE Electric must return to customers the overcollection with interest. Under new state laws, utilities no longer are allowed to self-implement a customer rate increase before the Commission rules on a company’s request.
THIRD ROUND OF TAX SAVINGS OK’D FOR ALPENA POWER
Customers will see refunds on their utility bills for the rest of the year as a result of the final round of adjustments based on changes to the federal corporate tax rate under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (Case No. U-20318). Alpena agreed in a settlement to a total refund of $286,234 for 2018 and 2019. A residential customer using an average of 500 kilowatt hours of electricity a month will see a “Tax Credit C” reduction of $1.11 on their bills from April through December. Beginning in January 2020 and until rates are modified by a future Commission order, Alpena will refund a total of $143,117. Residential customers will see an estimated savings of 42 cents a month from 2020-25 and approximately 64 cents a month from 2026-37. This is the third step in calculating tax savings. Continuing Credit A refunds of $1.52 a month were approved in May 2018 and Credit B refunds of $1.50 for five months ending this past February were approved in September 2018. Credit A and Credit B refunds have been approved for nine other utilities, which are calculating their Calculation C refunds.
FINAL ISSUES RESOLVED IN I&M PURPA CASE
A settlement between Indiana Michigan Power Co. and MPSC Staff was accepted after resolving outstanding questions from a Dec. 20 Commission order (Case No. U-18092). The agreement updates I&M’s energy price forecasts to reflect the PJM market construct and finds it’s appropriate to not include a capacity payment in I&M’s standard offer. Opportunities will be considered to include capacity payments in the standard offer before the company’s next biennial update.
INTERVENOR DENIED REHEARING IN DTE GREEN PRICING CASE
The Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council’s request for a rehearing of the MPSC’s approval of DTE Electric Co.’s large customer voluntary green pricing program was denied (Case No. U-20343). The Commission noted that under statute (Section 61 of Act 342 of 2016) the pilot program did not need to be considered in a contested hearing and that DTE Electric did not disregard a Commission directive by opening a new docket for consideration of the program.
UMERC CAN MODIFY IRP, ASSESS POWER SUPPLY COST RECOVERY FACTOR
Upper Michigan Energy Resources Corp. will be allowed to submit a modified integrated resource plan after demonstrating it will have adequate generating capacity once two natural gas combustion plants for electricity generation are operational later this year (Case No. U-20470). The Commission agreed with UMERC’s recommendations to include 11 specific sections in its IRP. It also said that once a final order is issued in UMERC’s 2019 IRP a date will be determined for its subsequent integrated resource plan filing.
The MPSC also approved a settlement for power supply cost recovery factors (Case No. U-20227). UMERC will implement a factor of 0.313 cents per kilowatt hour for customers in its Wisconsin Electric Power Co. rate zone and 0.219 cents per kilowatt hour for customers in its Wisconsin Public Service Corp. rate zone. The factors are effective through the end of the year.
MPSC SIGNS OFF ON SIX RENEWABLE ENERGY PLANS
Renewable energy plans for six utilities comply with Public Act 295 of 2008, the MPSC ruled. Approved were plans by the Chelsea Department of Electric and Water (Case No. U-16602), City of Eaton Rapids (Case No. U-16610), Grand Haven Board of Light and Power (Case No. U-16613), City of Harbor Springs (Case No. U-16614), Holland Board of Public Works (Case No. U-16617), and Wyandotte Department of Municipal Services (Case No. U-16638).
MERCURY WIRELESS INDIANA DESIGNATED ETC, GRANTED LICENSE
The Commission approved an application by Mercury Wireless Indiana LLC to be designated as an eligible telecommunications carrier under the Michigan Telecommunications Act (Case No. U-20333). It also granted Mercury a permanent license to provide basic local exchange service in areas of southwest Michigan served by AT&T Michigan, Frontier North Inc., and Frontier Midstates Inc. (Case No. U-20445).
MPSC OPPOSES REQUEST THAT FCC END PROVIDER NOTIFICATIONS
The MPSC filed reply comments with the Federal Communications Commission opposing a request by the NCTA, also known as the Internet & Television Association, to repeal a federal requirement that interconnected voice over internet protocol providers notify states 30 days before requesting phone numbers from numbering administrators. The Commission said a repeal would restrict Michigan’s ability to perform its delegated statutory duties. It added that the federal rules have ensured proper monitoring and continued optimization of numbering resources to prevent exhausting the numbers that are available in an area code.
To look up cases from today’s meeting, access the eDockets filing system here.
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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