Cedric Flowers, the new vice president of operations at DTE Gas, remembers a day in 1998 that would change the direction of his life. Strolling the halls of J.W. Sexton High School in Lansing, Flowers was stopped by a military recruiter asking if he would like to take a test – and get a day off from school.
“I was 18 and, honestly, didn’t think much of it,” said Flowers. “But after taking the test, I gave the military more consideration. Ultimately, I decided to join the Air Force and shipped out right after graduation. That decision shaped my life.”
Flowers spent the next four years serving in the United States Air Force, after which he went to college to obtain a degree in Chemical Engineering and then a Master of Business Administration.
Flowers views his new role at DTE as another opportunity to serve. Responsible for the safe and reliable delivery of natural gas to homes and businesses in communities across the state, including Detroit, Flowers understands that customers depend on natural gas – particularly in these brutally cold months.
“The proactive work that we’re doing in the community – upgrading the pipes carrying natural gas and moving meters to the outside of buildings – all of that is done to ensure that our customers can continue to depend on DTE to keep their homes warm.”
This winter has been much colder than in years past, and that is making furnaces work much harder – resulting in higher energy bills. But Flowers wants DTE customers to know that there is help if they need it. According to Flowers, there is additional state funding available for customers this year who are in need and struggling to pay their energy bills.
“The key takeaway is to call DTE at 800-477-4747 as soon as you think you might have problems paying your bill,” said Flowers. “Whether it’s help paying the bill or helping customers stabilize their budget by spreading annual energy costs across equal monthly payments, we are here to provide support.”
DTE Gas is doing more than providing assistance to help with customers’ bills. The company also works year-round to keep energy costs affordable by locking in natural gas prices during the off season, and then passing those savings to customers. In fact, DTE Gas does not mark-up natural gas — what the company pays for natural gas is what customers pay. This winter alone, this strategy is saving customers an average of $20 a month.
“Think of it like buying winter gloves and hats in April,” explains Flowers. “You’re buying when demand and prices are low and storing it for when winter hits.”
The company is not only working to protect customers’ pocketbooks, DTE Gas also has a plan in place to protect the planet. In 2020, the company announced a first-of-its-kind program that reduces greenhouse gases not only in DTE’s operations, but also requires suppliers to do the same. In addition, DTE Gas is inviting customers along for the journey with a voluntary program to offset their home’s natural gas emissions for as little as $4 a month, called Natural Gas Balance. By 2050, this commitment will result in greenhouse gas emission reductions equivalent to taking 1.3 million cars off the road.
Flowers is active in veteran groups, including a group of DTE Energy veterans. He also serves on the Oakland University School of Engineering Advisory Board as well as The Heat and Warmth Fund (THAW) Board, a group that helps Michiganders pay utility bills, including propane and water bills.
Flowers credits his grandfather for his commitment to serving: “My grandfather served in World War II and fought in the Battle of the Bulge and in Normandy. He set the bar of service high for me and I work to reach it every day. I’m here to serve our customers, to make sure their families are warm and that we do all that we can to preserve the planet for future generations.”