Nessel to weview DTE’s permanent waiver request to skirt new outage credit rules for customers

Last week, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel filed a notice of intervention in DTE Electric’s recent permanent waiver request before the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC). DTE seeks to change the current outage credit process for select customers whose homes are not equipped with Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), otherwise known as smart meters. DTE argues that learning of outages affecting customers with traditional electric meters and applying the now mandatory outage credits to their bills is too difficult without direct customer action. The rules governing outage credits place the burden on the utility to track and automatically apply such credits and make no exceptions for the type of meter used at the ratepayer’s residence.

“DTE is asking to be excused from complying with the State’s outage credit rules, put in place to hold utilities accountable for their performance and to compensate their bill-paying customers when their lights go out. DTE has an obligation to provide reliable service to all its customers, regardless of whether they have smart meters or not,” said Nessel. “DTE's phrasing of the outage credit as a benefit to their customers is additionally troubling, as the MPSC initially implemented the credits expressly to serve as a penalty for poor-performing utility corporations. DTE’s desire to erode public accountability measures is unsurprising, but it is an overreach to seek to be permanently excused from complying with the outage credit mandate. As always, my team will be carefully scrutinizing this request.”

Based on the efforts of Nessel and others, the MPSC amended its Service Quality Rules (SQRs) last year. One of the most notable changes was requiring utility providers to issue automatic credits to customers after meeting specific outage criteria. Previously, the SQRs required customers to contact their utility provider in order to receive an outage bill credit.

In DTE’s current permanent waiver request for non-smart meter customers, DTE seeks to revert to putting the burden on customers for receiving outage credits that they are rightfully owed. Under DTE’s request to be exempt from the State’s rules, non-smart meter customers would need to call DTE if they believe an outage qualified for an outage credit. In addition, under DTE’s proposal, the 90-day turnaround time for issuing an outage credit would run from the time the customer reports the outage, not the time of the actual outage. In defending its request, DTE argues that non-smart meter customers may not receive all the benefits of a smart meter.   

Nessel encourages DTE customers to submit their own comments on the MPSC e-Docket for this matter, U-21643. Screenshot instructions for filing comments on e-Dockets can be found on the recently released AG Utility webpage at

This is the second outage credit waiver request the Attorney General has intervened in this year. In April, she intervened in Upper Peninsula Power Company’s permanent outage credit waiver request.  

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