DTE told to explain power shutoffs

The Detroit News

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that DTE Energy provided some notice to customers before cutting off their service under a new billing system.

A Michigan regulatory agency wants DTE Energy to explain why it cut off power to several thousand customers last year after implementing a new billing system.

The Michigan Public Service Commission scheduled a March 2 hearing on the matter at its offices in Lansing.

After DTE changed its billing system in April, gas and electric customers began complaining to the commission that their power was improperly turned off and they never received a warning, as required by state law.

After being contacted by the commission last year, DTE submitted a report last month that described the extent of the problem. But, one week after Jan. 22 report, DTE discovered additional customers who had been affected, it wrote in a follow-up letter.

From Dec. 1 to Jan. 12, DTE cut power to 5,000 customers, the company said in the Jan. 29 letter.

In testimony Jan. 30 before a state House subcomittee, the utility’s executive director of customer service operations, Angie Pizzuti, testified that the affected customers “did receive some notification, but not the duplication of notice required by the MPSC.”

After discovering the mistake, the company restored customers’ service.

After receiving the letter, the commission decided to hold a hearing on the issue. During the hearing, it will examine the extent of the shutoffs and billing mistakes, and determine whether the problem has been resolved.