HOLDING DTE ACCOUNTABLE TO US
As elected leaders, at all levels of government, we must do more to work together and hold DTE accountable for the poor, shoddy electrical service they have been providing. Seemingly every time it storms, and sometimes when it doesn't, the power goes out for Westland residents and businesses. This is unacceptable! I will continue to work with my colleagues on Council and elected officials all over Metro Detroit to create real solutions that will make our power grid more reliable and hold DTE accountable to us.
RESULTS AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Speaking out against the poor service and constant rate increases from DTE.
As your City Councilmember I have never been afraid to stand up and speak out against DTE. I have not and will never
accept campaign donations from DTE because I believe it is the job of your elected leaders to be beholden to you, the
customers of DTE, not a big corporation. When DTE has tried to go to the Michigan Public Service Commission to
increase electric rates on all of us I've spoken out against it publicly. When DTE hasn't made the necessary upgrades to
our power grid by trimming more trees, changing out transformers, or burying more powerlines I've been loud in my
criticisms of them. When DTE has tried giving away the money we pay to them from our utility bills to Wall Street
stockholders and shareholders, instead of reinvesting to make our power grid more reliable, I've been one of their most
Watch the video clips below, from our Westland City Council meetings, to see how I've spoken out against DTE and stood up on your behalf.
MY PLAN FOR HOLDING DTE ACCOUNTABLE TO US
Facts and Figures about DTE and the state of our power grid:
As one of your elected officials on your Westland City Council I have worked to hold DTE to account when it comes to the constant power outages faced by residents here in Westland. I have done so by asking for public meetings
with DTE Representatives, speaking out publicly at City Council meetings, and advocated for communities to join
together to stand up to the DTE monopoly. Here in the State of Michigan we rank 46th in the country in-terms of the
reliability of our power grid. We are also 34th in the country in-terms of the costs and money we pay to have power.
That means our power grid is both expensive and unreliable. We have to demand better from DTE.
We must demand that DTE do more to make our electric grid more reliable and secure so that the power doesn't go
out every time it storms or we have a little bit of wind. We must ensure that DTE is making more upgrades to our
power grid and infrastructure by trimming more trees each year, changing out transformers before they blow, and
burying power lines when possible.
It’s also worth looking into DTE’s financial statements as a corporate entity. DTE Energy’s gross profit for the twelve months ending June 30, 2022 was $5.923B, a 11.69% increase year-over-year. DTE Energy annual gross profit for
2021 was $5.756B, a 3.08% increase from 2020. DTE Energy annual gross profit for 2020 was $5.584B, a 4.67% increase
There is something else that years 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022 have in common at DTE besides their net profit
increases year over year. Each of those years DTE lobbied the Michigan Public Service Commission, the unit of
government that regulates our public utilities, for electrical rate increases. That means DTE was trying to get more
money out of consumers like us. According to a publication in the Detroit Free Press by Free Press Journalist
Nusharat Rhaman, with numbers obtained from DTE and the State of Michigan’s own reports, DTE requested an
8.8% rate increase in 2022. That equates to approximately $388 million in additional revenue . Rhaman reports that
this would amount to about $10 more a month for residential customers. Since 2010, Rhaman’s reporting showed
that the Michigan Public Service Commission had approved six other rate increases. The most recent was in 2020,
when the commission approved a DTE rate increase of 4.7%, or $3.93 a month. DTE and its lobbyists get the State of
Michigan to give them frequent rate increases on the backs of consumers like all of us.
According to Salary.com, Jerry Norcia, the Chief Executive of DTE, made approximately $11 million in total
compensation in 2020 and $10,054,678 in 2021. Mr. Norcia received an 11% compensation increase in 2020 from
2019, during the pandemic. As a result of his compensation increase, when you factor in total compensation, he
now makes 67 times the pay of his average worker at DTE. Vice Chairman and Chief Administrative Officer David
Meador made $3,729,535 in total compensation. President and COO Trevor Lauer made $2,548,069. Senior Vice
President and Chief Financial Officer $2,546,164. President and Chief Operating Office Mark Steiers made
$2,285,565 in total compensation.
Meanwhile, DTE has only recently ramped up investments its tree trimming program after much public outcry and
scrutiny. Above ground power lines and trees taking out wires and entire poles are a significant contributor to the
constant power outrageous according to several studies. Additionally, lack of investments in the overall power
grid and infrastructure contribute to these constant outages and delays in service. Consumers across Westland and
Metro Detroit have experienced constant outages throughout 2021 and have lost time and money as a result. DTE’s
customers, residents and small businesses alike, sit for days without power watching their food go to waste, vital life
saving medicines go bad, and experiencing the inconvenience of living without power. We’re told by DTE that we
need to be patient and that they are out there doing the best they possibly can. And just what is DTE doing response
to all of this inconvenience and this patience we’re all supposed to have, they are offering us another lousy $25 bill
credit, if you qualify for it.
Upon discussing DTE’s “generous” offer of a $25 credit, I think there are some pertinent follow up questions that
need to be asked. Did you lose only $25 worth of food in your fridge when the power went out? If you lost life-saving
prescriptions that required refrigeration, did those only cost you $25? If you were forced to stay at a hotel,
one-two-three-four nights, was your bill only $25? If you experienced damage to your home as a result of the power
being out, was that damage only $25?
If your power is out, don't blame the Utility Workers and hard working union members either. The hard working and
dedicated Utility Workers from the Michigan State Utility Workers Council are doing all they can with the resources
they are given from DTE to keep our power on and restore it when it goes out. This isn't there fault, this is the fault
of the corporate entities controlling our power grid here in Michigan.
If you're angry at both DTE and Consumers Energy you should be. If you're looking for a quick solution to the
constant power outrageous and annual price rate increases on our backs from DTE there isn't one. Over the long
term, what needs to happen is for the people’s representatives, your government, at the state and local levels, being
tougher on DTE. Taking a stand to demand more tree trimming, burying of power lines, and upgrades to our power
grid. public control, no not privatization, over the utility companies.
Work with elected leaders in Lansing on laws requiring larger bill credits for power outages:
We need to be leaning on and working with our elected leaders in Lansing, State Representatives, State Senators,
and the Governor to draft a law requiring DTE to offer larger bill credits when residential and business customers
experience a long lasting power outage. Industry research that I have done shows that the best course of action
would be to offer a $2 per hour credit for every single hour you are out of power.
By offering a larger credit to customers people and business would be not be put under as much financial burden
when they have to throw away food and medicine, stay at a hotel, or experience a loss of business. By making the
credit steeper on DTE it also incentivizes them to get our power grid back up and running quicker, so that people
and businesses aren't left for days and entire weeks without power.
Ensure the Michigan Public Service Commission is making DTE invest in and strengthen our power grid:
The other important component to holding DTE accountable to us is working with the appointed Michigan Public
Service Commission. The Michigan Public Service Commission is a board of people appointed by the Governor and
then are in charge of regulating DTE. They are the body that decides what regulations to impose on DTE and they
also decide if and by how much DTE and Consumers Energy get to increase out electric rates.
We as elected leaders, at every level of government, need to work with the membership of the Michigan Public
Service Commission to ensure that they are adequately regulating DTE. By properly regulating I mean ensuring that
DTE is putting more money into upgrading and strengthening our power grid than they are giving dividends to
stockholders on Wall Street. They need to make sure DTE is trimming more trees, changing out transformers before
they blow, making improvements to substations,, and burying more power lines across Metro Detroit.
Support an initiative for public control of our electric utilities and power grid:
Our electrical and power grid should be controlled by the people of Metro Detroit and not a fore-profit, corporate entity.
When we allow private, for-profit companies like DTE and Consumers Energy to control our grid like they do we aren't
giving ourselves the best option for the most reliable service. That's because instead of being beholden to their
customers, DTE cares more about their Wall Street Shareholders. As a for profit, private company DTE invests
hundreds-of-millions of dollars each year into stock dividends for it's corporate shareholders, instead of putting that
money back into our grid.
What we need instead is a publicly-owned electrical and power utility service. Just as our water service is owned by the
Great Lakes Water Authority, it is time to have a publicly-owned power company. Studies show that public utilities are
often more reliable, have fewer power outages, and have a quicker turn around time to get power restored when it does
go out. That is because publicly-owned power utilities are behold to the people and their customers, not Wall Street
Shareholders. Communities and counties across Southeast Michigan should come together to begin to earnestly
explore the idea of setting up a publicly-owned power utility. This would be done ultimately through a vote of the people
via a ballot initiative. It's time that we the people control our power supply!