DTE Energy to refund $27M in customer overcharges

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News
The Michigan Public Service Commission has concluded its investigation into DTE Energy's billing practices.

DTE Energy will pay more than $27 million in refunds to its electric customers this spring after state regulators reduced a 2017 rate hike imposed by the utility, the Michigan Public Service Commission said Thursday.

The company is expected to return a total of $27,197,106 to customers in two credits on their May and June bills.

A residential customer who uses 500-kilowatt hours of power a month will see a refund of $3.65 in each of the two months, according to a news release.

DTE Electric legally self-implemented a $125 million rate increase in November 2017, but the commission afterward approved increases totaling $74.4 million.

By law, DTE Electric must return to customers the over-collection with interest. Under new state laws, utilities no longer are allowed to self-implement a customer rate increase before the commission rules on a company’s request, officials said.

Also Thursday, the Public Service Commission concluded an investigation into the company's billing practices, officials said.

The commission investigated issues with DTE Energy Co.'s new billing system after customers filed reports of incorrect shutoffs and inaccurate billing statements.

Shortly after beginning its investigation in December 2017, the commission received numerous complaints through its Customer Assistance Division about improper shutoffs and other errors.

In December 2018, the MPSC approved a settlement that fined DTE $840,000 for violating the commission’s Consumer Standards and Billing Practices for Electric and Natural Gas Service. 

In DTE's report on Feb. 18, the company acknowledged system-related problems, state officials said.

"The company said in the report that it continues to address issues with its BudgetWise Billing program, collective invoicing, and assessing duplicate re-connection fees for some natural gas customers," according to a state press release.

The committee and DTE staff meet weekly on correcting remaining issues, they said.

Customers who have unresolved complaints can call the MPSC’s Customer Assistance hotline at (800) 292-9555 or file a complaint online.

Twitter: @SarahRahal_