DTE proposes rate increases, electric vehicle plan


DTE Energy Co. has filed a $328 million rate request with the Michigan Public Service Commission that includes a $13 million pilot program for electric vehicle charging stations that could be the largest in the Midwest.

The proposed electric rate increases would average 9.1 percent for residential customers, 4.3 percent for many commercial users and 4.5 percent for schools, colleges and universities. The rates, if approved by the commission, would take effect in May 2019.

DTE said it needs the increased rates to continue to improve its distribution and generation system.

If the commission approves DTE’s rate request, an average residential customer’s electric bill may increase by $9.42 per month. For example, a residential customer using 400 kilowatts per month would pay $6.24 more under the new rate plan, or $71.71 per month.

DTE stated that the $328 million rate increase is $196 million lower than it would have been because of federal tax reform.

DTE’s proposed EV pilot — called Charging Forward — includes an investment of $13 million over three years to develop charging stations in residential, commercial and fleet areas; rebates to support some 32 “fast” chargers, 1,000 Level 2 commercial chargers and 2,600 home smart chargers; and customer education.

There also would be a requirement that customers enroll in a rate that changes by time of day to qualify for smart charging rebate.

Robert Kelter, a senior attorney with the Environmental Law & Policy Center in Chicago, said the state of Michigan and the MPSC should create policies to encourage DTE and other utilities to set policies that encourage charging cars at night, which could lower electric rates for all.

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“DTE Energy’s Charging Forward proposal will go a long way toward filling the electric vehicle charging infrastructure gaps that create barriers to EV adoption,” Charles Griffith, director of climate and energy program at the Ecology Center in Ann Arbor, said in a statement.

“The proposal also incentivizes EV charging to occur during times of day when there is excess capacity on the grid, helping to reduce costs for all electricity customers and reduce pollution for Michigan residents,” Griffith said.

In May, Consumers Energy Co. in Jackson proposed a three-year $7.5 million EV pilot program along with a $58 million rate increase request.

AEP Ohio also was approved in April for a $10 million EV pilot program by the Ohio Public Utilities Commission.

“Michigan and the Motor City need to take bold action to put us on a path to a clean car future,” said Sierra Club Associate Attorney Joe Halso in a statement. “DTE’s proposal is a step in the right direction. We would like to see a program that maximizes the public health and electricity grid benefits that we know electric cars can deliver.”



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