‘Absurd’: Michigan AG Nessel intervenes as DTE seeks another rate hike

DTE seeks an additional $450 million annually. The request comes on the heels of a $368 million rate increase approved in December.
The DTE Energy logo in front of a large office building
DTE Energy seeks another rate increase of $450 million annually. That’s on top of a $368 million increase state regulators approved in December. (via Shutterstock)
  • AG Dana Nessel challenges DTE’s $450 million rate hike request, citing recent and excessive increases.
  • DTE’s shift to annual rate filings raises concerns about increased consumer costs and advocacy strain.
  • Critics argue DTE’s financial strategies benefit shareholders at the expense of consumers amid ongoing reliability concerns.

Attorney General Dana Nessel announced her intervention in the latest electric rate case filed by DTE Energy on Friday.

“This latest rate hike request from DTE is, frankly, absurd in both the astounding dollars and obnoxious timing—requesting yet another $450 million not even four months since their last rate hike was approved,” Nessel said in a statement.

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In its filing, DTE stated that the new request is “primarily driven by the company’s continued distribution infrastructure investments to improve customer power reliability and generation investments to bring cleaner energy faster to the state.” The filing said the company seeks the increase to support its efforts to reduce power outages by 30% and cut outage time in half in the next five years.

The utility seeks an additional $450 million annually from customers starting January 2025. This request comes on the heels of a substantial $368 million rate increase approved by the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) in December, which already added approximately $6.51 to the average residential customer’s monthly bill. DTE Energy vice chairman Trevor Lauer claimed the previous rate increase would be offset by a $300 million reduction in fuel costs in 2024, potentially lowering the effective monthly increase to $2.56 for customers.

The move aligns with DTE’s recent pattern of nearly annual rate case filings, contrasting with the triennial filings of a decade ago. Critics argue that this new frequency strains consumer advocacy efforts and may lead to rapid rate increases.

Amy Bandyk, executive director of the Citizens Utility Board of Michigan, previously told Planet Detroit that the increasingly frequent rate cases could lead to more rapid rate increases and additional costs for ratepayer advocates. “Filing more frequently gives them more opportunities to win higher rates against a more stretched-thin opposition,” Bandyk said.

State regulators’ recent approval of a 6.36% rate increase, although 40% less than DTE’s original $622 million request, has been met with mixed reactions. Advocacy groups commended the push for increased transparency and accountability. Still, they lamented the decision to maintain DTE’s return on equity rate at 9.9%, which they argue benefits shareholders at the expense of consumers, especially in low-income and minority communities