Consumers and DTE to suspend shutoffs to seniors; low-income households in wake of coronavirus
Michigan’s two largest energy companies will be suspending shutoffs for non-payments in response to COVID-19 and its spread in Michigan. Both Consumers Energy and DTE Energy have suspended shutoffs for senior citizens and low-income eligibility households until April 5th.
For both Consumers and DTE, a low-income eligible household is one whose income is at or below 200% of the federal poverty level. For Consumers, a senior citizen is anyone 65 years or older, and for DTE it’s anyone 62 or older.
Roger Morgenstern is a public information officer with Consumers Energy. He says Consumers may make determinations on shutoff suspension on a case by case basis.
“Our call centers are empowered to look at individual circumstances and make determinations if there are some circumstances that, you know, we can intervene in.” In these cases, he says customers should call Consumers directly.
“We know there are some financial circumstances that are being created by the closures [of restaurants and businesses] because of the virus, but right now, we’re limiting the suspension of shutoffs to the lower-income households and senior citizens.”
Freya Kennedy is the Principal Supervisor of Energy Assistance at DTE Energy. She says DTE will also be monitoring the situation with COVID-19 in Michigan carefully.
“If anyone is encountering difficulty paying their bills, DTE does want to know. As soon as someone feels they will be unable to pay an upcoming bill, we want them to contact us, and we'll work with them to find the best form of assistance available to them.”
Both utilities say they will keep their eye on the situation and make determinations week by week as to whether the April 5th deadline needs to be extended.
Editor’s note: Consumers Energy and DTE Energy are corporate sponsors of Michigan Radio.