DTE Electric filed a request with the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) to continue a multi-year modernization of southeast Michigan's electric distribution infrastructure. Average residential customer bills are expected to remain at 2012 levels or lower. The request was filed Monday.
"Our customers want us to provide more reliable service while keeping the cost of energy affordable and competitive. We are making progress on both fronts," said Jerry Norcia, president and chief operating officer, DTE Electric.
"As a result of a variety of initiatives we've undertaken, our customers have experienced fewer outages, and reliability has improved by 20 percent. We've been able to do all of this while keeping our operations and maintenance costs flat, and keeping the average residential bill and commercial and industrial rates below the national average," Norcia said. "It's important to continue the work needed to modernize and automate our aging infrastructure to meet the demands of the 21st century."
The requested rate adjustment of $344 million will enable the company to make improvements to the electric system's aging infrastructure and equipment. This aging equipment causes more frequent and longer power outages.
Aging infrastructure is a national concern. Like all critical infrastructure systems across the country, DTE's electric system needs to be upgraded and modernized. In southeast Michigan, some of the key components on DTE's distribution system are roughly twice the ideal age for this equipment.
Recently, DTE Electric championed a variety of initiatives, including:
· Over the last three years, DTE implemented cost-savings programs that reduced customer rates by more than $500 million
· In 2015, DTE completed $1.8 billion of work to maintain reliability of and reduce emissions from power plants; build solar and wind generation, and improve the reliability of the electric grid
· From 2013-2015, DTE improved reliability of nearly 450 circuits and will continue with this investment program in 2016, with plans to upgrade more than one-third (1,300) of the company's total circuits (3,300) over the next four to five years
· In 2015, DTE trimmed nearly 4,000 miles of trees along circuits, as two-thirds of the time customers spend without power are caused by trees; reliability on recently trimmed circuits is expected to improve by more than 70 percent
· DTE plans to accelerate its efforts in tree trimming, system resiliency and automation, and aging infrastructure upgrades to further improve reliability