Utilities continue fueling misinformation in first legislative hearing on power outages.
LANSING – Following the first Michigan legislative oversight hearing about power outages, several non-profit advocacy organizations urged lawmakers to hold accessible, community-focused public hearings to hear from more customers who have been impacted by repeated power outages, most recently during back-to-back ice storms, as they consider solutions to tackling climate change driving extreme weather.
The groups noted utility executives were given a significant amount of time to simply repeat the same empty rhetoric they’ve espoused over the years in response to charging the highest rates for the least reliable service in the Midwest. There were several instances throughout that hearing where lawmakers chided the utilities for not answering their questions and noted the attention given to shareholder profits at the expense of Michigan customers.
The Senate Energy and Environment Committee oversight hearing next week, as publicly posted, only includes further testimony from utilities and the Michigan Public Service Commission.
“The legislative hearings should be an opportunity for people to be heard, not just executives from DTE and Consumers – we need accountability so customers and performance are put before profits. Nearly 1 million people were without power for days on end in the middle of winter, so early morning hearings where working people can’t participate is not enough. Schools were shut down for days, and families lost food, life-saving medicine and many were forced to evacuate their homes and seek shelter elsewhere. Michigan customers pay the highest rates for the worst service in the Midwest. That’s a fact. The status quo is only working for big utilities and shareholders and it’s high time the Legislature and Michigan Public Service Commission take action to address the problems. That includes hearing more directly from customers devastated by the power outages in future hearings, but it can’t end there. Lawmakers should move forward with bills to protect ratepayers from continued outages and ensure that utilities rapidly invest in energy efficiency and safe, clean renewable energy sources which will bolster our power grid for the long term.”
Groups that signed onto this statement include: Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America - Michigan Chapter, Clean Water Action, Ecology Center, Michigan Climate Action Network, Michigan Clinicians for Climate Action, Michigan Environmental Council, Michigan League of Conservation Voters, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), and Sierra Club.
Our state legislators cannot allow this to continue. Michigan needs energy providers that put the well-being of customers first and ensures that its energy production and distribution does not harm our climate or health. This requires investing in renewable energy sources, storage, and transmission to meet the need to transition to clean energy for the future of our climate.
Send a letter to your state legislators asking that they hold DTE Energy accountable for its failure to meet Michigan’s energy needs and for the proposed rate increases that will raise energy bills for customers!