DTE Team Helps Michiganders Pay Bills, Keep Power Flowing

Lovie Wilson’s heart sank when she read the email. A Detroiter with disabilities had just lost his longtime companion to an unexpected death and the tragedy forced him from the home they had shared. Now the man is in a new apartment, according to Lovie’s inbox at DTE Energy, and he can’t afford the $300 he owes to DTE from the old place.

Lovie is a senior customer service analyst for DTE, specializing in helping low-income customers pay their bills. “The young man was afraid of losing power – of living alone with no light or heat – and so he reached out to DTE,” Lovie said. Could DTE help pay his bill?

Thanks to area human service agencies and DTE’s support of these non-profits – as well as governmental partners — the answer for this man was yes. Lovie’s team at DTE connected him to a state program that paid the $300 and to a non-profit agency for additional assistance.

Last year, DTE customers received $119 million through the Michigan Energy Assistance Program (MEAP), the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), and other programs that are funded by DTE. And we expect even more customers will get help this year — $163 million worth. In the last five years, DTE donated more than $50 million to charitable agencies that assist low-income Michiganders with their energy bills. In some cases DTE delivers financial aid directly to the accounts of eligible customers, and the White House recently recognized those efforts.

Lovie shared this story not to promote herself or DTE but to raise awareness about the resources available to help financially strapped Michiganders keep their power on. For every person who knows about the assistance programs DTE and is partners offer, there are thousands of people who don’t.

“The worst thing a DTE customer can do is not ask us for help. We don’t want to see our customers buried by debt or losing power,” Lovie said. She encouraged people to call her team at 1-800-477-4747 or reach out via the company website at dteenergy.com/help.

“Anybody who truly needs help, gets help,” she said.

DTE employees dozens of service representatives like Lovie to connect people having trouble with energy bills with programs that help pay them.

DTE doubled down during the COVID-19 pandemic, working with the state to forgive nearly $4 million in debt for more than 23,000 customers. The company also assisted 7,500 customers in applying for state and federal aid and offered convenient payment plans for 66,000 customers.

In addition, DTE suspended service shut offs during the peak months of the pandemic in 2020, ensuring the nobody was left in the dark or cold during the worst of the crisis. This was an extension of the company’s standard policy to give people billing grace during periods of extreme heat or cold.

Lovie’s team is equipped and trained to ensure that customers receive multiple forms of help beyond LIHEAP and MEAP: renters assistance through COVID Emergency Renters Assistance (CERA), State Emergency Relief (SER) funds, and several civic agencies whose missions are supported by DTE contributions.

They do all this through DTE’s Personalized Service Protection Plan, a program launched at the start of the pandemic to draw together the many forms of assistance and personalize solutions for DTE customers based on their specific circumstances.

Beyond offering that direct assistance, DTE teams up with local non-profit organizations and community action agencies to provide free energy-saving home improvements to eligible customers. Last year, 10,926 electric and 12,273 natural gas customers participated in this program.

From the Web