For years, the Ecology Center has worked tirelessly alongside its partners to ensure that DTE, Michigan’s largest utility, meets the needs of millions of statewide customers while also doing its part to protect the environment. On January 20th, 2022, these efforts resulted in a significant victory for customers facing the highest energy burdens. A settlement agreement in the DTE Energy Waste Reduction (EWR) case, approved by the Michigan Public Service Commission– is a big win for Michigan households and the planet.
Among other things, the settlement requires that DTE increase the company’s budget for income-qualified gas and electric energy waste reduction efforts. These budget increases, amounting to $10.5 million over 2022 and 2023, will assist Michigan households that experience the highest levels of energy burden or percentage of income spent on energy costs. By targeting high-need areas for efficiency upgrades and measures, the agreement will help to lower energy bills and greenhouse gas emissions substantially. Additionally, the settlement requires that DTE implement a range of metrics that track both energy waste reduction in individual homes and the overall equity of the utility’s investments across the state of Michigan.
The Ecology Center’s Climate & Energy Team joined forces with coalition partners to bring about the DTE settlement, which focuses on the human health implications and inequities in utility program investments. Households facing the highest energy burden often receive less robust energy efficiency investments. This injustice leaves those customers trapped in situations of high energy use and ever-increasing costs, forcing them to make hard decisions that impact the health of their families. The EWR case took on a piece of this problem by ensuring that homes with the greatest need will have access to services from the utilities.
Ecology Center has actively pursued funding to address home issues that have deferred energy efficiency investments. These issues include leaky roofs, water and mold infiltration, faulty ductwork, and outdated electrical systems, all of which create health hazards within homes and investment deferrals. “Addressing health and safety measures that include air quality, comfort, and environmental hazards, creates a healthier place for people to live and improves their quality of life,” says Alexis Blizman, Legislative & Policy Director of the Clean Energy & Climate Action Team. Through centering communities most impacted by environmental injustice and high energy burden, victories like the DTE settlement are crucial in fighting for a safer, more sustainable future for all.