Self-Direct Program Details for Business Customers.

Energy conservation legislation enacted by the Michigan legislature allows DTE Electric customers to self-direct and implement their own energy optimization plan.

Focusing on Customer Satisfaction

Serving our customers is the number one priority at DTE Energy. We work tirelessly to provide our customers with safe, reliable and affordable energy. Every interaction is an opportunity to exceed our customers’ expectations.


Electric Reliability

DTE Electric’s service area extends over more than 7,600 square miles. Severe weather can significantly impact the energy infrastructure, resulting in unpredictable and unavoidable power outages. To minimize service interruptions due to severe weather, DTE Electric works continuously to improve to improve system reliability through equipment upgrade through equipment upgrades, inspections, maintenance and tree trimming. We know that customer satisfaction is tied closely to reliability, and we recognize that we have much work to do in this area. Because dependable electricity is vitally important to our customers, DTE is applying additional resources to reduce both the length and the frequency of power outages.

Our efforts include:

  • > Upgrading poles, wires and other equipment and improving regular maintenance programs so that the electric system is more resistant to severe weather.
  • > Installing equipment and technology that allows us to restore power more quickly and limit the number of customers impacted when outages do occur.
  • > Eliminating the root cause of the trouble in areas where a small number of customers experience more outages than usual.

The amount of time our customers were without power due to outages in 2015 declined by 65% compared to 2014. Weather conditions were a factor in this improvement, but it also reflects the hard work of DTE Electric employees and the energy grid upgrades we have instituted.

In 2013, we launched an aggressive modernization program for our electric system that enables faster restoration of customer outages. A key component of the program involves installing equipment that allows us to re-route power around trouble areas and isolate damaged equipment. As a result, we are able to limit the number of customers affected by outages and restore power more quickly. We are also adding technology that shortens the time required to identify outage locations, so we can complete repairs and restore service faster. Cumulatively, about 450 circuits have been upgraded since the program began. In 2015, we completed 154 of these projects, exceeding our planned goal of 151.

In 2013, we launched an aggressive modernization program for our electric system that enables faster restoration of customer outages. A key component of the program involves installing equipment that allows us to re-route power around trouble areas and isolate damaged equipment. As a result, we are able to limit the number of customers affected by outages and restore power more quickly. We are also adding technology that shortens the time required to identify outage locations, so we can complete repairs and restore service faster. Cumulatively, about 450 circuits have been upgraded since the program began. In 2015, we completed 154 of these projects, exceeding our planned goal of 151.

DTE Energy will spend more than $25 million in 2016 to upgrade an additional 200 circuits. By 2020, we will upgrade more than 1,400 circuits, roughly half of our distribution network.

We have also expanded our program to provide solutions for small areas of customers who have experienced four or more power outages lasting longer than five minutes. In 2015, we planned to complete 84 of these projects, and we exceeded that goal, actually completing 87 of these reliability enhancement projects.

Tree Trimming to Support Electric Reliability

DTE recognizes the value of trees in our communities, both for habitat conservation and aesthetics. As part of our continuing journey toward becoming the best-operated utility company in North America, DTE Energy is renewing its emphasis on tree trimming near our power lines. While the trees that thrive throughout our region are a source of tremendous pride, they are one of the main causes of power outages.

In fact, toppled trees and downed branches are responsible for two-thirds of the time that our customers spend without power. Trees that come into contact with power lines also pose potential safety concerns. In 2015, DTE Energy trimmed trees along nearly 4,000 miles of circuits. In areas where we have completed enhanced trimming, tree-related outages have been reduced by 75 percent. DTE Energy will spend over $60 million in 2016 for tree trimming to provide safe and reliable service to our customers. As we do this, we are committed to communicating and collaborating with customers every step of the way.

In partnership with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, we support tree planting projects throughout our service territory. Since the program's launch in 1998, we have awarded $1.2 million in grants from the DTE Energy Foundation, allowing for 38,000 trees and seedlings to be planted in 472 communities. In 2015, we expanded program funding to allow even more community-based groups to plant new trees.



Safety and Emergency Preparedness

DTE responds with urgency to all electrical interruptions. Restoration efforts begin with the earliest forecast of severe weather. Crews and support staff prepare to work around-the-clock. When storms cause catastrophic damage, restoration crews from other energy companies in the region as well as local contractors assist DTE as needed. Likewise, when storms cause major outages in areas outside of Michigan, DTE reciprocates by sending crews to help the local utilities in restoration efforts.

During storm conditions, whenever the number of reported hazards exceeds the number of restoration crews available for dispatch, we activate Public Protection teams – DTE Energy employees trained in procedures that help protect the public from potentially hazardous wires. If there is a high risk of public contact from a downed wire, a Wire Guard team is the first to arrive to tape and secure the site, which may then be guarded by a Public Protection team until restoration crews arrive. Public Protection is a vital service our employees provide to customers and communities during storms and is a key way that we live our safety core value as a company.

In addition to our utilities’ public safety focus, we need to be prepared for any emergency that can severely impact our operations, our employees and the delivery of energy to our customers. Our business planning practices address all types of contingencies, from weather-related reliability challenges that we deal with routinely, to extremely low probability events like criminal attacks or catastrophic failures. DTE Energy has a strategy for maintaining communications and restoring services in response to any emergency. In addition, we strive to identify potential risks and prevent emergencies from happening, or at least minimize their impact, to the extent possible.

Our emergency plans address issues such as electrical and natural gas safety, protection from cyber-attacks, and maintaining the safety and integrity of our nuclear facilities and coal ash management structures.

At our Fermi nuclear power plant, we conducted a planned refueling and maintenance event in the fall of 2015. Besides replacing one-third of the fuel in the reactor, we also completed thousands of equipment maintenance activities. One of the key improvements at Fermi during the outage was completion of two new buildings on site as part of the nuclear industry's "FLEX" strategy in response to the events at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant five years ago. FLEX refers to the nuclear industry's diverse, flexible approach to mitigate the impacts of unforeseen events. The new buildings, which are flood- and tornado-proof, store additional portable pumps, generators and other equipment to ensure that the reactor can be managed safely, even if threatened by natural disaster.


Natural Gas Reliability and Safety

Maintaining a safe and reliable natural gas system is a responsibility we take very seriously. The energy we provide is used to heat schools, hospitals, police and fire departments, homes and businesses. DTE Gas has met or exceeded all federal, state and local guidelines for safety, inspections and operations of our pipeline system in Michigan. We have completed all required inspections of larger diameter and higher pressure transmission pipelines, and voluntarily expanded our program to inspect three times more transmission pipeline than required by regulation.

Public safety is extremely important to us. We maintain the safety and reliability of our natural gas pipeline system through a comprehensive program of inspections, maintenance and upgrades. Over the next five years, we plan to invest $1.6 billion in our natural gas infrastructure, which will help fund the ongoing modernization of our main pipelines and the installation of new service lines to homes and businesses.

A key part of our work to provide safe and reliable service is replacing older gas mains made of cast iron or unprotected steel with mains composed of safer, longer-lasting materials. DTE replaced or retired 80 miles of pipeline in 2015, and we are on track to replace another 100 miles in 2016. Along the way, we are also moving inside gas meters to an outside location so we can provide customers with safer, less intrusive service. Our plan filed with the Michigan Public Service Commission provides for increasing the rate of pipeline renewals going forward, reaching 160 miles annually in 2018 through 2020.

We conduct more than 300,000 gas meter safety inspections every year to ensure safe and reliable operation. In addition, we survey nearly 10,000 miles of pipeline annually, verifying there are no natural gas leaks in the system that serves our customers.

In our gas storage operations, DTE Energy maintains storage wells in adherence with strict state standards and specifications to protect public health and safety. We use remote data monitoring and on-site inspections to continuously monitor the performance of each well. We also perform regular corrosion assessments and pressure testing as well as annual groundwater monitoring to detect and address any methane leakage.


Customer Service

DTE’s Customer Experience initiative focuses on our customers’ needs to ensure they have consistent, positive experiences with DTE, no matter how they do business with us. The following programs are designed to make that experience easy for customers while making our internal processes more efficient:

  DTE Energy Mobile app

The DTE Energy Mobile app gives customers a convenient way to manage their account. In just a few clicks, customers can pay bills, compare their monthly energy usage, or report and track an outage. The app is compatible with iOS and Android smart phones, and can also be used on iPads and Android tablets.

Guest Pay

Guest Pay allows customers to pay their bill - or someone else's - on or the DTE Energy Mobile app, without having to sign-in to an online account. All customers need is a last name and address, or account number, and they can then pay using a debit or credit card, or with a bank account without incurring service fees.

  eBill Paperless Billing

Since launching our eBill Paperless Billing enrollment pilot – where customers who call to request new electric or natural gas service are asked to enroll in eBill – 25 percent of new customers are opting to participate in this paperless billing program. eBill Paperless Billing is an easy, convenient way for our customers to manage their monthly energy bills.  Customers receive email reminders when their bill is ready to view and they can pay online through a variety of free methods, including the AutoPay option.

  Payment Kiosks

Launched at eight pilot locations in Detroit in 2013, and now in 25 locations throughout southeast Michigan, DTE Energy Payment Kiosks offer customers a convenient and secure way to access their DTE accounts and pay their energy bills with cash, check or credit card without processing fees.


“I Can Help”

At DTE Energy, every employee is an ambassador and is empowered to take responsibility for customer service and satisfaction. “I Can Help!” is a grassroots approach to customer service that makes it possible for any DTE employee to assist customers whose concerns have not been resolved through other contact with the company. Any DTE employee who comes across a customer with an unresolved question or concern is empowered to submit a referral via the “I Can Help!” program, using a smartphone, tablet or home computer. Through this initiative, we resolve between 3,500 and 5,000 customer service issues annually.



Serving Customers through Technology

Smart Meters

Smart metering technology is a system upgrade that uses secure, low-frequency radio transmissions to send electricity and gas usage data without the need for a manual meter reading. Over the last several years, DTE Energy has been installing smart meters across Michigan to ensure that our customers have a safe, secure technology that connects directly to their DTE Energy online profiles. This technology allows our customers to better manage their energy usage and lower their bills. In 2016, we reached the milestone of 3 million meters installed. Our goal is to convert all DTE Electric meters by the end of 2017, and all DTE Gas meters by the end of 2022.

Smart meters support technology that brings a wide range of benefits and services to customers. The new technology allows DTE Energy to:


  • > Improve reliability by quickly identifying and addressing power outages and other service problems.
  • > Virtually eliminate estimated bills through automated meter reading.
  • > Remotely connect and disconnect residential electric service which means faster, less intrusive service.
  • > Reduce operating costs and thereby limit future rate increases.

DTE Insight App

DTE Insight is a mobile app that provides customers with real-time home energy usage data by connecting their home’s smart electric meter to their smartphone. Our customers can use this data to inform their decisions about home energy use from heating and cooling, to the use of appliances and even home weatherization. The app can help customers save energy and reduce their bills.

Since the app became available to Apple iPhone and Android users in summer 2014, more than 72,000 DTE customers have downloaded it onto 151,000 devices to start saving on their monthly energy bills.

The app offers sophisticated tools to inspire and motivate customers to save energy by changing their behavior.

Historical Tracking – customers can see how much energy they have used each day, week, and month. They can track their usage trends and view their progress.

Target Setting – customers can set energy usage goals and track their consumption as they approach their energy target.

Dashboard View – customers can gain continuous insight into their energy efficiency and performance within their home.

Tips and Challenges – customers receive helpful ideas and challenges to inspire energy reduction and savings.

Power Scan – customers have a convenient way to measure the energy consumption of their devices by scanning their power cords.

Our analysis shows that, on average, residential customers using the app reduced their electricity use by an estimated 1.2 percent. Customers can also obtain a free energy bridge device from DTE that provides real-time monitoring of home energy usage. Customers who use the DTE Insight app together with the energy bridge are achieving reductions of up to 10 percent.

DTE Insight Wins Industry Award

DTE Energy was honored with a 2016 CLEAR Consumer Education Award from the nonprofit Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative for the launch of the innovative DTE Insight app, recognizing DTE as an industry role model for its consumer-centric approach in the development of energy efficiency projects. We are the first utility nationwide to offer customers a real-time energy tracking and management tool that is accessible on mobile devices.

Cybersecurity and Customer Data Protection

In recent years, technology advancements have allowed us to improve our customer service by introducing online platforms and electronic databases to streamline our information management systems. While electronic systems have many benefits, security risks may also arise – such as recent data breaches at several large retail, banking and medical organizations. To protect our customers and their personal information, DTE Energy takes a proactive stance on cybersecurity. We participate in numerous state and industry-specific cybersecurity initiatives and adhere to the Michigan Public Service Commission privacy rules and our own DTE Energy information security policy. We perform security assessments of our vendors, and take measures to ensure the safety and security of our advanced meter network.

Our best line of defense for information protection and security is our employees. They are required to participate in annual security awareness training. By using a defensive, multi-level approach, we are able to secure our customer data and other critical digital infrastructure.


Customer Satisfaction

DTE Energy’s ongoing efforts to continuously improve our products, programs and processes, with a stellar customer experience in mind, have resulted in significant improvements in customer satisfaction since 2007. DTE measures customer satisfaction through J.D. Power – a global marketing information company that represents the voice of the customer – and their extensive consumer studies in the utility industry.

Our J.D. Power customer satisfaction scores increased again in 2015, in absolute terms. However, our relative rankings compared to peer companies have remained stable because those peers have improved their scores more quickly than DTE. We are stepping up our efforts to address the perceived concerns through our ongoing focus on continuous improvement. We are also striving to better communicate with all our customers to raise awareness of the full range of customer and community benefits that DTE Energy provides.


DTE Energy Honored for Service to Business Customers

A nationwide survey of nearly 12,000 business customers ranked DTE Energy among the top utilities in providing high-quality service and building relationships with minority-owned business customers. The company ranked No. 2 against 59 other utilities in a customer engagement study conducted by Market Strategies, earning DTE a top spot on the 2015 Business Customer Champion list. The ranking reflects our focus on improving service reliability and educating customers on energy efficient practices.



DTE Energy is committed to keeping energy affordable for our customers. Reasonable electricity rates, for businesses as well as residential customers, contribute to the strength and competitiveness of Michigan’s economy. Over the next decade, we must invest significantly in new, cleaner generation to meet environmental standards, while maintaining and enhancing reliability. We are aggressively pursuing continuous improvement in productivity and efficiency to ensure continued energy affordability for our customers.

We also encourage our customers to take advantage of our residential energy efficiency programs – which reached more than 550,000 electric and 300,000 gas customers in 2014 – to help lower their natural gas and electric bills.

For our residential customers, annual bills tend to be a better measure of affordability than rates alone. DTE Electric residential customers’ electric bills are 18 percent below the national average. And in spite of the fact that Michiganders use far more natural gas than most Americans due to our state’s cold winters, combined electric and natural gas bills are only slightly higher than the national average.

In December 2015, DTE Electric received approval from the Michigan Public Service Commission for the company’s first rate increase in four years. The increase was requested to cover our investments in environmental compliance, generating facilities and reliability improvement projects. Even after this approval, rates remain lower than they were in 2013 for all customers, due to decreases in surcharges and fuel costs that we passed along to customers over the last three years.

For our industrial customers that compete on a global or regional scale and have energy-intensive manufacturing processes, competitive electric rates are especially important.

Since 2013,DTE Electric industrial rates have declined 22 percent, and they are now below the national and regional average.

For the residential and business customers of DTE Gas, we have been lowering prices steadily since 2008. This reflects the substantial increase in natural gas supply in the United States. In addition, Michigan’s unique geology allows us to buy large quantities of natural gas when prices are low and store it underground until it is needed during the cold winter months, giving DTE customers price stability.

Low-Income Self-Sufficiency Plan

While unemployment rates have improved in Michigan, there are still many people struggling to pay their bills. Roughly 20 percent of Michigan residents live below the poverty line, and we currently have about 500,000 customers who need energy assistance. However, government funding for low-income customer assistance has been declining.

DTE Energy pioneered an innovative program called the Low-Income Self-Sufficiency Plan to help economically stressed customers bridge the gap between extreme-weather energy bills and reduced government aid. This proactive, year-round assistance program helps customers budget for their energy payments, avoid service interruptions during hard times, and puts them on a path to self-sufficiency.

Under DTE’s Low-Income Self-Sufficiency Plan, customers who enroll are required to pay a fixed amount every month based on income. Their unpaid bill totals are frozen and reduced quarterly with successful payment compliance. Another benefit of the plan is access to DTE’s energy efficiency programs. Homes receive energy assessments, weatherization, compact fluorescent bulbs and other energy saving assistance. Customers can obtain assistance for an entire year with one call, and they can access this help without having to wait until they reach a financial crisis point. The improved process also helps DTE avoid the cost of managing repeated phone calls, disconnects and service restorations.

During 2015, 34,000 customers enrolled in the Low-Income Self-Sufficiency Plan and 90 percent successfully stayed in the program. This is a very high retention rate compared to typical assistance programs – indicating that the plan addresses factors that are important to our customers.

We expect to grow the enrollment in 2016 to about 35,000 customers. Less than 2% of our 34,000 LSP customers experienced a service disconnect (compared to 55% for traditional assistance programs). In addition, the LSP program continues to have higher customer satisfaction than other programs (96% compared to 70%).


Sixth Annual Week of Warmth Helps 30,000

In partnership with The Heat and Warmth Fund (THAW), DTE Energy was proud to present the sixth annual Week of Warmth in response to the growing need for energy assistance in our communities. During November 2015, we collaborated in an effort to prepare as many vulnerable households as possible for the upcoming winter season. In total, we raised and distributed nearly $1 million of energy assistance to improve energy affordability for more than 30,000 Michigan households. Seventy DTE volunteers worked as a team as part of Neighborhood Energy Efficiency Day (NEED) and performed 126 Home Energy Consultations to help vulnerable residents reduce their energy usage.