Living around Michigan during winter and spring months, you can guarantee you'll lose electric service because of snow/ice storms, severe thunderstorms or even tornados. Losing power for days on end can be life-threatening to some people that require life-saving equipment powered by... electricity. Now, there's automatic compensation for DTE and Consumers Energy customers.

How do you get an automatic electric service credit?

The Michigan Public Service Commission has done its research by interviewing utility officials and customers. Here's how the automatic crediting will work.

  • If there's a "catastrophic" power outage (think ice storm) where 10% of the power company's customers are without power for 96 hours (four days, down from five) -- there's an automatic $35 credit applied to your account. And there's an additional $35 credit for each day following the initial 96 hours.
  • This is an updated approach. Before you'd have to fill out a form and present your case, so to speak. The previous payout was a general $25 credit no matter the length of the outage.
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Other automatic credits are possible, too. Notes from the Michigan Public Service Commission:

The power outage credit kicks in after 96 hours during catastrophic conditions, defined as a utility having 10% or more of its customers without power; after 48 hours during gray sky conditions affecting between 1% and 10% of a utility’s customers, and after 16 hours during normal conditions. The outage credits now also will be indexed to the rate of inflation.

 

Why the change to outage credits now?

  • In short, following the 1 million+ customers that lost power during ice storms and the lengthy amount of time it took for restoration -- our elected officials decided to investigate and host forums for feedback. Basically, the state found its electrical grid needs major upgrades and is holding the "powers" that be more accountable to make improvements to the grid and overall restoration, faster.

If you're like me in a certain Grand Blanc, MI neighborhood that randomly loses power on the sunniest, most normal, days -- you can still get a credit, but it requires lots of tracking/documenting on your part. According to Consumers Energy, if you experience 8 eight outages in 12 months, you could receive a credit, too. You'll need to provide details in a form or call them, though.

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