Governor Gretchen Whitmer calls on DTE Energy, Consumers Energy, and Indiana Michigan Power to take immediate action to help Michigan families dealing with extended power outages and commit resources to improve reliability through tree trimming and grid hardening.
“This summer, Michiganders have been dealing with extreme weather events that led to lengthy power outages and repeated flooding,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “More than 750,000 Michiganders lost power over the last few weeks, with some outages lasting up to a week on some of the hottest days of the year. Outages like these lead to fridges full of spoiled food, interfere with life-saving medical equipment, disrupt the workday, and exacerbate the dangers of unmitigated hot weather. We need tangible, immediate action from Michigan’s three largest utility companies to ensure the production and delivery of affordable, reliable energy to every family, community, and small business.”
Governor Whitmer is calling on utilities to automatically credit Michiganders who experienced outages and increase the amount paid out. She is also asking for immediate action to reduce disruptions to power by increasing tree trimming and other grid–hardening practices. These extra investments should be financed by the company, rather than customers. Safe, dependable energy is key to a high quality of life and strong economic growth. The state’s electric grid must be up to the task so families, communities, and small businesses across Michigan can keep the lights on.
The Governor also encourages the Michigan Public Service Commission to prevent utilities from recovering outage–related costs from customers; require utilities to develop more extensive emergency preparedness plans; and speed up the adoption of rules that will increase grid security and reliability.
Over the last two years, the State of Michigan has taken some steps to improve reliability and study the electric grid. This includes work to implement the recommendations identified in the 2019 Statewide Energy Assessment and the MI Power Grid initiative. It is clear, however, that further action is needed to make our electric infrastructure more resilient to extreme weather events exacerbated by climate change.
Katie Carey, director of external relations for Consumers Energy, provided a statement on Whitmer’s letter to utilities after the recent historic storms.
“As an energy provider, we know keeping the lights on is job one for Consumers Energy. Dealing with power outages can be frustrating for our customers, and we’re proud of our team’s amazing work last week to restore power swiftly and safely and care for our customers who were impacted by the extreme weather Michigan endured,” Carey said. “To work to prevent outages, we’ve already more than doubled our investment in grid hardening reliability and increased our forestry investment by more than 60 percent since 2018. Looking forward, we plan to continue to significantly increase our investments in grid reliability.”
For Consumers, that includes a $5.4 billion electric reliability plan that is a blueprint for serving Michigan today and innovating to reduce the duration and number of power outages.
“We are proud to partner with the Governor and Michigan Public Service Commission on improving reliability, in an affordable way, when historic weather events hit our state,” Carey added in the statement.
“We understand Governor Whitmer’s concern for Michiganders who lost power due to the successive severe storms that brought widespread high winds, tornados and flooding, damaging trees, buildings and DTE’s electric grid in Southeast Michigan,” DTE said in the statement. “Our customers have endured hardships from power outages over the last six weeks. We’ll be back out in those communities most severely impacted; finalizing repairs, accelerated tree trimming, and upgrading critical infrastructure. We understand how important reliable power is for our customers and we are committed to making continued improvements now and in the future.”
DTE added that they are proactively applying a Reliability Credit as defined by the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) to the accounts of customers who have experienced outages during last week’s storm.
“We look forward to sharing our plans with the Governor.”