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Approximately 12,000 DTE customers remain without power in Livingston County

Approximately 12,000 DTE customers remain without power in Livingston County following an ice storm that swept across the region late Wednesday and early Thursday.

The outages, which are down from the more than 20,000 affected homes and businesses in the county reported Thursday morning, are among more than 465,000 powerless DTE customers across Southeast Michigan. That’s according to the DTE Outage Map as of 3 p.m. Friday.

DTE estimates that 95% of customers will be restored by end of day Sunday, Feb. 26.

That’s literal cold comfort to the residents left without heat in the frigid temperatures. The National Weather Service says temperatures are expected to struggle to hit 30 degrees on Friday before rising into the 40s over the weekend.

Trevor Lauer, DTE Electric’s president and chief operations officer, told The Detroit News that in their service area, Washtenaw and Livingston counties were especially hit hard.

“That’s where we’re seeing the most extensive damage, where you had the heaviest ice,” he told the paper. “In those areas, it exceeded a half inch.”

Meanwhile, DTE is proposing a 13.9% residential rate increase, among the biggest proposed by a Michigan utility in the past several years.

The proposal follows last November’s rejection by the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) of about 90% of a rate hike request the utility made, essentially concluding it had failed to justify the increase.

“There needs to be enough evidence on the record to be able to be confident that customer money is being spent in a reasonable and prudent manner,” said MPSC Commissioner Katherine Peretick.

That decision was hailed by the Citizens Utility Board of Michigan (CUB) which said in a public statement at the time that “DTE failed to do its homework and prove that its spending requests were in the best interests of ratepayers.”

This latest request prompted CUB to say that “essentially, DTE is trying to redo the rate case that just concluded, but with the addition of even more spending they want charged to customers,” adding that, “the problem is not that DTE wants to invest to improve the grid; it is that DTE’s plans are not the most cost-effective use of ratepayer dollars. Its investment priorities consistently are aimed more at enriching DTE shareholders by investing more capital that generates a return for the utility, rather than spending smarter to get the same (or better) improvements in grid reliability, while saving money for ratepayers.”

Picture courtesy of DTE

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