News Story

Consumers Energy and DTE Seek Higher Rates, Again

Utility companies Consumers Energy and DTE  Energy earned $2.1 billion in profits last year. But that isn’t stopping Consumers from asking for more money from its customers in Michigan.

During the 2020-21 pandemic, when many people lost their jobs and couldn’t pay their bills, Consumers Energy requested a 14% rate increase that would bring in an additional $244 million. Attorney General Dana Nessel intervened, and the rate hike was cut to an increase of $90.2 million. It went into effect Jan. 1, 2021.

But the regional monopoly is now asking the Michigan Public Service Commission for a rate hike of an additional $225 million. Residential customers’ rates would increase 9%, according to the attorney general. Consumers Energy Spokesman Brian Wheeler defended the rate increase, saying rate requests is a standard procedure the company goes through every other year, according to ABC 12 News. Yet the latest request for increase comes less than three months after the January hike went into effect.

Consumers Energy and Detroit Energy also support collecting $250 million in new state grants. At a House Appropriations Committee, a representative of Detroit Energy said the money will be used for underserved and unserved communities to assist with the infrastructure to transition to natural gas.

Wayne Kohley of the Michigan Propane Gas Association testified during the hearing that the $250 million allocation is a corporate handout, according MIRS News. Although propane and natural gas have the same carbon emissions, he said, it appears that the larger utilities are picked as winners by the government while the propane industry continues to lose customers.

On top of the rate hikes and increase funding from taxpayers, Consumers Energy recently announced plans to institute higher rates for electricity during peak seasonal hours.

Beginning June 1 through Sept. 30, a consumer will now pay 1.5 times higher rates than off-peak hourly rates on weekdays from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. These are the hours when more energy tends to be used. Off-peak rate prices during the summer months will be the same rate a consumer pays October through May.

The utility’s residential rates have gone up 35.5% overall from 2009 to 2018, according to Lansing State Journal.

Garrick Rochow was recently named CEO of CMS Energy and made $2,003,420 in 2019 when working as the executive vice president. Consumers Energy is the primary subsidiary of CMS Energy.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.