utilities

Politics & Government
5:02 am
Thu September 11, 2014

Local groups call for support for EPA's Clean Power Plan

The EPA's Clean Power Plan aims to reduce carbon emissions from power plants by 30% from 2005 levels by 2030.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Environmentalists and others are trying to rally support in Michigan for proposed rules to force utilities to make power plants cleaner.

The Environmental Protection Agency wants tougher emission standards for the nation’s power plants.

The EPA’s Clean Power Plan aims to reduce carbon emissions from power plants by 30%  from 2005 levels by 2030. 

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Law
2:00 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

More options, protections against heat shutoffs this winter – but no guarantees

Michigan customers who struggle to pay heating bills have some additional legal protections from heat shutoffs this winter.

But with the ongoing brutal cold, this will prove a painful winter for people already struggling to pay utility bills. And some households still face the very real prospect of going without heat.

In 2013, the state implemented a variety of new rules outlining how and when utilities can shut off service to residential customers.

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Environment & Science
5:14 am
Tue November 19, 2013

Many Michiganders are still waiting for their electricity to be turned back on

Utility crews work to restore electricity to tens of thousands of Michigan utility customers
DTE

Consumers Energy and DTE linemen return to work today hoping to restore electricity to hundreds of thousands of Michigan utility customers left in the dark by Sunday’s windstorm.

At last report, DTE says it still has about 150,000 customers waiting to have their electricity turned back on.   Consumers Energy has more than 170,000 of its customers waiting for their power to be restored.

Last night was not a good time to be without electricity. Temperatures around the state dipped below the freezing mark.

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Environment & Science
9:09 am
Mon September 2, 2013

More Michigan utility customers get credit for generating excess power

(file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - More wind and solar energy users in Michigan are getting billing credit for excess power they generate.

State regulators issued a report last week showing utility customers with their own windmills and solar panels onsite increased the net metering program's production size by 55% from 2011 to 2012.

There also were more than 300 additional residential or business customers taking part in the program last year than the year before.

Business
11:55 am
Mon July 1, 2013

Lansing's new power plant will reduce greenhouse gas emissions

BWL's new Reo Town co-generation plant (the building on the right) will greatly reduce the workload at the electricity and steam plants (the 3 smokestacks to the left)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan’s first new utility built power plant in 25 years was fired up today in Lansing.

The Reo Town power plant’s natural gas powered turbines whirled to life this morning.

The $182 million plant will generate electricity and steam for Lansing Board of Water and Light customers.   The plant will generate up to 300,000 pounds of steam for 225 steam customers in downtown Lansing and will completely replace BWL’s Moores Park Steam Plant.   It also will provide 100 megawatts of electricity, about 20 percent of the utility's electric generation. 

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Politics & Government
9:05 pm
Tue February 5, 2013

Detroit City Council paves the way for public lighting authority

The Detroit City Council on Tuesday approved articles of incorporation for a public lighting authority in the city.

The state legislature passed bills in December enabling the lighting authority. Detroit has chronic problems keeping many of its streetlights on, though no one can say for sure how many aren't working at any given time.

It allows Detroit to retain ownership of its lighting system, but lets the authority run it. The city currently has about 33,000 lights on its grid; DTE Energy has the other 55,000.

Now that Council has approved its articles of incorporation, the next steps are to find five Detroit residents to act as board members.

Council President Pro-Tem wants to move as quickly as possible to get the authority up and running—and get some of Detroit’s chronically-dark streets lit.
 

“We need to be out of the business of public lighting,” Brown said.

The authority has the ability to issue bonds to upgrade Detroit’s lighting infrastructure. The legislation also carves out $12.5 million of the city’s utility

The resolution passed over the objections of some Council members.

They’re concerned that streetlights will be turned off forever in some targeted neighborhoods—and taxpayers living there will foot the bill anyway.

“The corporation will make all the revenue and profit, while the taxpayers pay off the debt,” Council member JoAnn Watson said. “The city of Detroit’s proposal would only provide designated neighborhoods
with streetlights, but every taxpayer in the city will pay for it.”

Council member Ken Cockrel Jr. says there are “a lot of perfectly legitimate concerns” with the plan.

"But they probably should’ve been raised six months ago before we approved a resolution, sent it to the legislature, and got the legislature to create the authority,” Cockrel said. “You can’t turn back the clock at this point.”

One of the authority’s biggest decisions will be to decide how many of Detroit’s estimated 88,000 streetlights should remain on. That number—and where service is concentrated—are likely to be major points of contention in coming months.

The legislation calls for taking about 40,000 lights offline.

Business
5:18 pm
Thu May 3, 2012

DTE shareholders meeting met by protests

DTE Energy shareholders were met by protesters at their annual meeting in Detroit Thursday.

Hundreds of people demonstrated outside the company’s Detroit headquarters.  And inside, several interrupted CEO Gerard Anderson as he tried to run the meeting.

Protesters shouted for DTE to “Pay its fair share!”

They were talking about the fact that DTE was named as one of the nation’s “Dirty 30” companies in a recent report—one that paid more in lobbying expenses than federal income taxes from 2008 to 2010.

Demonstrators also protested the utility’s shutoff policies. The utility shut off service to 200,000 in its southeast Michigan service area in 2011.

That number has more than doubled over the past five years.

Demonstrators also criticized DTE’s continued reliance on coal-fired power, rather than renewable energy.

Protester Thomas Reinke said renewable power sources are now both cleaner and less expensive than coal.

 “We’re getting poorer and poorer every day, and we’re being forced to pay high costs of utilities that could be offset by wind and solar, or other types of renewable energy,” said Reinke, who says he owns a small, residential renewable energy business.

DTE officials announced Thursday that they’re looking for more wind energy suppliers.

“DTE Energy is seeking approximately 100 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy from Michigan-based wind projects that will be operating by the end of 2013.  This solicitation is part of DTE Energy's plan to meet Michigan's renewable energy goals,” the company said in a written statement.

By state law, they must provide 10% of their power from renewable sources by 2015.

As for the tax-dodging accusations, a DTE spokesman counters that the utility has paid more $1 billion in taxes since 2008, mostly to state and local governments.

Energy
5:04 pm
Wed January 4, 2012

Planned power outage leaves thousands without light, heat in Detroit

Households and businesses in one section of Detroit lost power for a few hours Wednesday morning.

That’s because DTE Energy was performing what it calls “routine maintenance” on some underground power lines.

Mid-morning, generators were still humming at Holbrook Auto Repair in  Highland Park. Manager Jeff Worthy bought them this week, when he found out DTE planned the temporary power outage.

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Energy
12:16 pm
Wed January 4, 2012

DTE cuts power in parts of Detroit and Highland Park for maintenance

user wheat_in_your_hair Flickr

12:16 p.m.

As it turns out, the planned power outage in parts of Detroit and Highland Park were over by the time the post was put up below. The Associated Press reports:

A planned power outage has wrapped up earlier than expected in part of Detroit and Highland Park after crews worked to repair some underground lines.

DTE Energy Co. said Wednesday's outage affected about 3,500 customers in Detroit and the Detroit enclave.

Officials said the power was shut down to the area as planned about 6 a.m. EST. The power was back on before 11 a.m, more than three hours earlier than expected.

11:35 a.m.

Around 3,500 DTE Energy customers in Detroit and the Highland Park area have had their power cut while the utility company performs "routine maintenance."

Some question whether the timing of the routine maintenance was wise given the cold temperatures.

Fox News in Detroit reports the maintenance was originally scheduled for this past fall:

DTE Energy told FOX 2 the routine maintenance was originally slated for late September or early October, but together with city officials and community leaders, they decided January fourth would be better. That way schools aren't impacted.

A video posted by the Detroit Free Press shows at least two customers in the area are taking the outage in stride.

The Free Press reports that three activity centers have been opened as warming centers in the area:

...the City of Detroit has designated three recreation centers as warming centers.

The warming centers are Northwest Activities Center, 18100 Meyers Road; Butzel Family Center, 7737 Kercheval, and Farwell Community Center, 2711 E. Outer Drive.

The power is expected to be turned back on at 2 p.m. Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek is following this story as well.

Politics
9:14 pm
Tue November 1, 2011

Protesters target DTE Energy

Many people are worried about a long, cold winter ahead for low-income people who could face utility shutoffs.

That’s particularly true in Detroit, where dozens of people protested about the issue in front of DTE Energy headquarters.

The protesters want DTE to end utility shutoffs in the winter months, and create a rate structure that better accommodates the elderly, disabled, and poor.

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Politics
5:30 am
Mon October 31, 2011

Water rates spiking in Benton Harbor

Water bills in Benton Harbor will jump at least 40-percent in November.

Benton Harbor’s water system has served the city and surrounding Benton Charter, St. Joe Charter, Hagar and Sodus Townships. Earlier this month Benton Township put its own system online.

The township decided to separate from Benton Harbor after years of mismanagement by the city.

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Economy
9:48 am
Thu February 24, 2011

Consumers Energy posts profit in 2010

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Consumers Energy has been busy this week reconnecting tens of thousands of customers who lost power during last Sunday's ice & snow storm.  So it could be argued the utility was due some good news.  Today CMS Energy announced the Jackson-based utility profits increased last year.   

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Auto/Economy
6:03 pm
Mon December 13, 2010

Thousands seek utility assistance in Detroit

Thousands of DTE Energy customers came to Detroit’s Cobo Hall looking for help today (Monday). The utility hosted its third “customer assistance day” there.

DTE Vice President Joyce Hayes Giles says the event is a “one-stop shop” to match customers with government and non-profit utility assistance programs.

Hayes Giles says the high turnout isn’t surprising. 

“It speaks to the need in our community. But it also speaks to the fact that we’re going to help a number of customers and we’re really pleased to be able to do that.”

 

Hayes Giles says DTE also raised more than a million dollars for its own customer assistance program. That money will be refunded to qualified DTE customers as credits on their monthly bill.

BUSINESS
4:14 pm
Wed December 8, 2010

Lansing BW&L gets key state permit for new power plant

Artist conception of proposed power plant
(BWL)

The Lansing Board of Water & Light has gotten a key state permit clearing the way for construction of a new $182 million cogeneration power plant


The Department of Natural Resources and Environment granted the permit.   


A Lansing BW&L spokesman says the utility will now move to issuing bonds to pay for the project. The utility hopes to begin operating the new power plant in 2013.


The power plant will rely on natural gas to produce electricity. Lansing utility officials say it will eventually replace an aging coal-fired power plant.

Energy theft
9:32 am
Tue November 2, 2010

Detroit utility struggles to stay on top of theft

DTE Energy theft investigator Keith Gross prepares a lock box to prevent thieves from tampering with a gas meter.
(Sarah Hulett, Michigan Radio)

If you walk into a gas station or a party store in the city of Detroit, you might see a flyer taped up, advertising "help with gas and lights."

But the phone number probably won’t connect to a charity program or aid organization. More likely, it’ll put you in touch with a fixer who will help you steal electricity or natural gas.

Trying to shut the problem down is a team of investigators from DTE Energy. Every day of the work week, they embark on what seems like a never-ending game of whack-a-mole.

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