If you or anyone you know are in need of assistance, there is still power at the Ernest T. Ford Recreation Center, located at 10 Pitkin St in Highland Park and residents are being allowed to take shelter there to power mobile devices and stay out of the heat. For Detroit residents, please refer to this list of community centers that may still have power and are open to the public.
Our thoughts and prayers are with all community members that are being unfairly impacted by DTE’s failure to be prepared for yesterday’s storm.
Yesterday a strong wind, thunder and rainstorm swept through much of SE Michigan, causing limbs from trees to fall and utility poles to bend or collapse, bringing power lines in contact with the ground. With winds picking up 70 MPH, many of our communities are experiencing power outages for nearly 300k customers (12% of DTE’s total customer base), school closures, boil advisories, and due to a downed power line, the devastating loss of a 14 year old child in Monroe.
Storm damaged utility poles in Highland Park
It is easy to put out a public statement and blame all of this on severe weather, but let’s be realistic. When you are a multibillion-dollar company that has reaped massive profits in the past 5 years, including during the pandemic and this one, and you are receiving failing grades for your quality of service and infrastructure, it is a hard pill for community members and customers to swallow when given such flimsy excuses.
The truth is, DTE is responsible for these power outages. DTE is responsible for the financial fallout that households are going to go through in the coming days. DTE is responsible for choosing to prioritize their shareholders over their duty to provide a vital public service to our communities. When will enough actually be enough? How many more millions of our money in handouts will they beg for from the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) until they feel satisfied and start doing their jobs to serve their customers?
Storm damaged utility poles and downed trees in Highland Park
We cannot let them get one more dime from us. As rate paying customers, we must tell the MPSC to make the right decision by denying their rate hike proposal. We need the MPSC to tell DTE “NO MORE RATE HIKES''. Last week, they held an in person public hearing to listen to the community and to receive their comments to put on the record in the rate case. You can still submit public comments electronically by using the link below.
It is quick and easy. It comes with a prefilled message that urges them to deny DTE’s rate hike request. But we encourage you to put in your own reasons. Tell them that their decision involves life and death consequences, as we have seen from yesterday’s storm. If we don’t push back now, DTE is going to continue with business as usual. Which is to make as much money as possible for their shareholders, and not invest in our communities.
If you want to help us push back against DTE's rate hike, sign up to volunteer on our website. Be sure to write a comment that you would like to help with the anti rate hike campaign and one of us will reach out to connect you to our coalition's efforts in a meaningful way that works for you.
Rafael Mojica, Program Director
If you were there, you already know the energy that was flowing in that 150 person capacity room at Wayne County Community College in Detroit. On Monday, August 22nd, after receiving pressure from the public and organizations like Soulardarity, We The People MI, and the MI Environmental Justice Coalition, the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) held a public hearing for the DTE Rate Hike Proposal (+$388M) that is currently under their consideration.
If you missed being there and want to see how it went down, visit the link below.
Hailing from Detroit, Highland Park, Ann Arbor, Royal Oak, and other surrounding areas, over 200 people came in attendance and gave in-person public comment, all of which were recorded by a court stenographer and witnessed by a judge, along with the board's three Commissioners. Every comment that was delivered that evening will be officially put on the record in the case.
It was a strategic win for the community, getting us hopefully closer to shutting down DTE's plans to take more of residential rate payers' money (+$283M) to fill the pockets of their shareholders (+$288M). But we still have a lot of work to do until November 21st, when the MPSC makes their ruling.
Submit your public comment
First, we need to continue making our voices heard by the MPSC. They are still accepting public comment electronically. Soulardarity is urging all of our supporters that are DTE rate payers to do so by using the link below. It's quick, easy, and will make an impact.
Sign up to volunteer
Second, if you want to jump into the trenches with us, and push back against DTE's rate hike, sign up to volunteer on our website. Be sure to write a comment that you would like to help with the anti rate hike campaign and one of us will reach out to connect you to our coalition's efforts in a meaningful way that works for you.
Read more about DTE's practices that damage our communities
We The People MI, with support from Soulardarity, We Want Green Too, and other environmental justice organizations, put together and released last week a scathing report that exposes the many ways that DTE harms our people. To read it, click the link below.
Also, our friends at ProPublica submitted another hard hitting investigative article on DTE. This time, revealing their horrible practice of selling the debts of rate payers to third party debt collectors. To read it, click the link below.
Check out below some press coverage of the public hearing
Become a monthly sustaining donor
Both in the court with our legal intervention, and in the public, we are making important and impactful strides to expose and stop DTE from continuing to take advantage of us. But we have a lot of work to do.
Another great way to support our work is by becoming a monthly sustaining donor or making a one time financial contribution. This will help us get closer to achieving financial independence, helping ensure that our staff and members can continue doing this important work on a daily basis.
Soulardarity hopes that you will join us. Together, many hands make light and powerful work.
Rafael Mojica, Program Director
JOIN SOULARDARITY STAFF, We The People MI, and MI Environmental Justice Coalition at the MPSC Public Hearing.
Thanks to pressure from community groups, this is the first time the MPSC has ever held a hearing on a rate increase decision.
The Michigan Public Service Commission has announced that it will hold a public hearing in MPSC Docket No. U-20836, DTE Electric Co.’s pending request for an electric rate increase.
About the Rate Case
- As DTE customers, we have among the worst power outages & highest rates in the country, and an affordability crisis with nearly 180,000 shut offs in 2021.
- The proposed rate hike would take an additional $233M from families, and give an additional $283M to investors, each year.
- They have no plan to upgrade grid infrastructure in most Detroit-area communities, though some equipment is 20-40 years older than in the suburbs, and 25+ years past expected lifetime.
- Here’s more information about their rate hike request.
Members of the public are invited to attend and provide public comment regarding the pending rate request. The MPSC is not offering a remote participation option for this hearing.
Monday, August 22, 2022 6:00pm - 8:00pm
Detroit Campus of Wayne County Community College
1001 W Fort St
Rm 236 (Frank Hayden Community Room)
Detroit, MI 48226
Options to Submit Public Comments
Individuals unable to attend in-person, but who wish to provide comments may do so by using our electronic submission form. Comments may also be submitted by mail to Michigan Public Service Commission, 7109 W. Saginaw Highway, Lansing, MI 48917. Comments should reference the docket number U-20836.To learn more about the Rate Case process, check out the MPSC’s Rate Case Issue Brief.
We have a few things with deadlines coming up and wanted to make sure you had the opportunity to participate and lend your voice!
Soulardarity Community Organizing Collaborative
DEADLINE: THIS MONDAY, AUGUST 1
The summer may be halfway over, but the work still needs to get done!
We need your help to engage and organize the community on a lot of important issues that will impact all of us, both good and bad.
This upcoming Monday, August 1 is the deadline to apply for the Soulardarity Community Organizing Collaborative (SCOC). If you are interested in jumping into the trenches with us, join the Collaborative and you will receive training and a $2000 stipend.
There is hot, and then there is hot! Extreme heat is a period of high heat and humidity with temperatures above 90 degrees for at least two to three days. In extreme heat your body works extra hard to maintain a normal temperature, which can lead to death. Extreme heat is responsible for the highest number of annual deaths among all weather-related hazards.
Older adults, children and sick or overweight individuals are at greater risk from extreme heat.
Humidity increases the feeling of heat.
Prepare for Extreme Heat
- Learn to recognize the signs of heat illness.
- Do not rely on a fan as your primary cooling device. Fans create air flow and a false sense of comfort, but do not reduce body temperature or prevent heat-related illnesses.
- Identify places in your community where you can go to get cool such as libraries and shopping malls or contact your local health department to find a cooling center in your area.
- Check Out Edsel T Ford Center 10 Pitkin St, Highland Park, MI 48203
- Monday 11AM–7PM
- Check Out Edsel T Ford Center 10 Pitkin St, Highland Park, MI 48203
- Cover windows with drapes or shades.
- Weather-strip doors and windows.
- Use window reflectors specifically designed to reflect heat back outside.
- Added insulation helps to keep the heat out.
- Use a powered attic ventilator, or attic fan, to regulate the heat level of a building’s attic by clearing out hot air.
- Install window air conditioners and insulate around them.
Be Safe DURING
- Never leave people or pets in a closed car on a warm day.
- If air conditioning is not available in your home go to a cooling center.
- Take cool showers or baths.
- Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
- Use your oven less to help reduce the temperature in your home.
- If you’re outside, find shade. Wear a hat wide enough to protect your face.
- Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
- Avoid high-energy activities or work outdoors, during midday heat, if possible.
- Check on family members, seniors and neighbors.
- Watch for heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
- Consider pet safety. If they are outside, make sure they have plenty of cool water and access to comfortable shade. Asphalt and dark pavement can be very hot to your pet’s feet.
- If using a mask, use one that is made of breathable fabric, such as cotton, instead of polyester. Don’t wear a mask if you feel yourself overheating or have trouble breathing.
Know the signs of heat-related illnesses and ways to respond. If you are sick and need medical attention, contact your healthcare provider for advice and shelter in place if you can. If you are experiencing a medical emergency call 9-1-1.
- Extremely high body temperature (above 103 degrees F) taken orally
- Red, hot and dry skin with no sweat
- Rapid, strong pulse
- Dizziness, confusion or unconsciousness
If you suspect heat stroke, call 9-1-1 or get the person to a hospital immediately. Cool down with whatever methods are available until medical help arrives. Do not give the person anything to drink.
- Signs: Muscle pains or spasms in the stomach, arms or legs
- Signs: Heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, fast or weak pulse, dizziness, headache, fainting, nausea, vomiting
If you have signs of heat cramps or heat exhaustion, go to a cooler location and cool down by removing excess clothing and taking sips of sports drinks or water. Call your healthcare provider if symptoms get worse or last more than an hour.
Good news for Highland Park! Our city is one of twenty two communities that has been selected to participate in Communities LEAP (Local Energy Action Program). This opportunity is being offered through the Department of Energy’s clean energy deployment work.
To qualify, it was required to submit an extensive application to make the case. Through a collaborative effort amongst multiple stakeholders, including Highland Park Community Crisis Coalition, Soulardarity, Avalon Village, Parker Village, and Highland Park Water and Engineering Department, the city is now eligible to receive up to $500k worth of technical assistance to address the energy crisis. With engagement from Highland Park residents and city government, we will partner with DOE to pursue a path toward 100% local, clean, renewable energy.
Securing this support is a major step forward towards the goals of our Blueprint For Energy Democracy, a vision established by our Highland Park leaders in 2019.
This could not have happened without the offers of support in all the forms they came in. In addition to the community organizations of the multi-stakeholder team, letters of support from the following were included:
- Representative Rashida Tlaib - Vice Chair Subcommittee on Environment
- State of Michigan Office of Future Mobility and Electrification
- State of Michigan Public Service Commission
- Union of Concerned Scientists
- Polar Bear Sustainable Energy Cooperative
- City of Ann Arbor Office of Sustainability and Innovation
- 5 Lakes Energy
- Elevate: Equity Through Climate Action
- Highland Park Human Rights Coalition
- Vote Solar
We wanted to share this good news with our members. And we want you to know that we will be working hard to ground this process in meeting the real needs of our community - affordable rates, reliable power, healthy environment, and resilience to crisis. We can’t do it without you - so get ready to get involved!
Soulardarity is helping Highland Park prepare for a #solarfuture. We're excited to announce that we've partnered again with Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) for the Rise Up Scholarship Training program to offer career training for jobs in the solar industry. Apply for admission and scholarships by Monday, February 28, 2022. MREA is able to provide a limited number of loaner laptops to assist with completing the self guided courses. Complete the online application here.