Sen. Colbeck testifies before House Energy Policy Committee

Investigation into DTE shut-off practices underway

LANSING, Mich.State Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, testified Tuesday before the House Energy Policy Committee regarding constituents who received notices of inappropriate power shut-offs.

The committee, chaired by Rep. Gary Glenn, took testimony from utility customers who had their power inappropriately disconnected over the past several months. A formal investigation into the matter is also underway by the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC).

“Last year my office began to see a large increase in the number of constituents contacting us and complaining about inappropriate shut-off notices and other problems that we reported to the MPSC,” Sen. Colbeck said. “The official investigation is based on preliminary data that showed at least 288 families had their power wrongfully shut off.

“The commission will be looking into the causes for these and other shut-offs, but as of now we know that many of them were simply due to a new computer system that DTE was using. We can’t have families without power for five days or more simply because of computer problems, particularly as DTE looks to have smart meters and remote shut-off capability play a more prominent role in disconnections.”

Sen. Colbeck’s testimony also outlined rules that the MPSC should update so that improper shut-offs can be detected faster and more penalties can be applied to any utility that is not following the rules.

Sen. Colbeck said that the wrongful shut-offs help prove why both utility choice and meter-choice urgently need to be offered in Michigan.

“In virtually any other industry, people can flee poor service when it jeopardizes their health and well-being,” Sen. Colbeck said. “But here in Michigan, they are stuck with their electricity provider. Until that changes, the state must provide proper oversight to ensure utilities provide good customer service to their captive customers.”

 

Click here to watch the committee hearing.  Senator Colbeck’s testimony begins at the 15:30 minute mark.

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