Detroit Edison's 2.1 million customers in southeastern Michigan could soon be paying more for electricity.
The Detroit-based utility on Friday filed a request with the Michigan Public Service Commission to increase electric rates by $253 million, citing increased costs to meet environmental requirements to reduce emissions from coal-fired plants; loss of revenue due to declines in commercial and industrial electricity demand; and rising costs for future retiree health care.
The filing came on the same day Detroit Edison's parent company, DTE Energy Co., posted third-quarter earnings of $163 million, up from $151 million in the same quarter a year ago.
"It takes the average residential bill from about $85 to $90 a month," Steve Kurmas, Detroit Edison's president and chief operating officer said of customers who use about 600 kilowatt hours per month.
The commission has a year to issue a final decision on the request, said Judy Palnau, a Public Service Commission spokeswoman.
But expect to see bills go up around May 1, because "about six months into (the commission's review), we're allowed to implement an interim rate relief," Kurmas said, adding that later can be adjusted up or down.
Kurmas said the company has worked hard to reduce its costs to help offset a rate increase for customers. The filing said that the company expects it will need $443 million in additional revenue, but is asking the state to approve $253 million more.
Electricity, he said, "remains an extremely good value."
"We absolutely recognize that every dollar comes difficult and has a burden on their personal family budget."
Residential customers last saw a bill increase — on average about $3 a month — around July 2009 through interim rate relief, Kurmas said.
In January, the PSC approved a $217.39 million rate increase for Detroit Edison, 42 percent less than the $378 million the company sought in its January 2009 filing. It also required the company to refund about $62.6 million to customers.
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