GENERIC: Thermostat

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is helping bring millions of dollars in donations to organizations that will help struggling customers pay their utility bills.

The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) approved two settlements, both from DTE Gas and Consumers Energy, on Thursday and late last month.

This agreement was reached with the help of Attorney General Nessel.

In the settlement approved by MPSC on Thursday, it reduces Consumers Energy Gas Co.’s $245 million rate increase request by over $100 million, along with a moratorium on any new increase until fall 2022.

A $1 million donation was made to The Heat and Warmth Fund (THAW) and an additional $1 million is going to nonprofits that help customers with their energy utilities.

The Attorney General’s Office said none of these donations are included in the rates paid by customers.

The order also prevents any cost recovery of the infrastructure improvements made to the Ray Compressor Station, until review and litigation in the next rate case.

A fire in January 2019 caused the station to go offline and contributed to an energy emergency.

In the order released late last month, the MPSC approved a settlement reducing DTE Gas Co.’s $203.8 million rate increase request by nearly 50 percent along with a $1 million donation to THAW.

No part of this donation is included in the rates paid by customers.

“As the state’s chief consumer advocate, I pushed hard for rate increase reductions as well as for donations in order to help customers struggling to pay utility bills during this pandemic crisis,” Nessel said. “With fall and the cold weather coming, $3 million in donations will go a long way to help customers stay warm."

Saunteel Jenkins, CEO of THAW, emphasized how important these donations are to Michigan families.

“Heat, electricity, and water are basic and essential needs, especially during a pandemic. Attorney General Nessel’s work on behalf of struggling families has real impact in this regard,” Jenkins said. “The donation will enable THAW to keep thousands more families healthy, safe and warm as Michigan struggles with both the cold and the pandemic. We are grateful for an Attorney General who is committed to advocating for families who too often do not have a voice.”

The Attorney General also worked with the Citizens Utility Board of Michigan (CUB), another consumer advocacy group, in both of these cases to bring about these results.

“Working with Attorney General Dana Nessel and Commission staff has yielded great results for consumers in these cases and we’re pleased to see these donation commitments included in the recent settlement agreements,” said Amy Bandyk, Executive Director of CUB.

Copyright 2020 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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