Michigan utilities continue to lag behind utilities in the rest of the country and offer less reliable service to customers at a higher price, the Citizens Utility Board (CUB) of Michigan’s newly-released 2022 Utility Performance Report reveals.
This summer saw more severe power outages, but also an inspiring response from utility customers, particularly customers of DTE in Detroit, who protested further rate increases in light of the terrible electric service they have been receiving. The 2022 Utility Performance Report, as a scorecard that compares Michigan utilities to peers nationwide on key performance criteria like reliability and affordability, provides context to this situation.
“Michganders pay the highest rates for electricity in the Midwest and have some of the least reliable service to show for it. It’s not right. This year’s report underscores the need for Michigan regulators and policymakers to act now to make the utilities accountable for their poor performance,” CUB of Michigan Executive Director Amy Bandyk said. [Quote available in video/audio here]
The 2021 Utility Performance Report released by the Citizens Utility Board of Michigan found that Michigan utilities like DTE Energy and Consumers Energy provide some of the least-reliable electric power service compared to other utilities around the country, despite their customers paying rates that are more expensive than average.
This year’s report shows that these trends continue and identifies particularly troubling vulnerabilities for utility customers in Michigan. The data show that Michigan is the 2nd-worst state when it comes to how long it takes for a utility to restore power to customers after an outage (based on data that excludes severe weather event days to normalize weather differences across states).
The report’s data comes from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration, and primarily comes from calendar year 2020, the most recent year with all data available.
Compared to the 2021 version of this report, Michigan utilities’ score marginally better on some measures of reliability. But that result is mostly due to other utilities in other states experiencing more power outages due to particularly severe weather events in 2020, as opposed to Michigan utilities improving their basic reliability performance.
Even in a good year, Michigan utilities show a vulnerability to power outages and poor restoration performance that is likely to be magnified in “bad” years.
The reliability metrics are:
• Length (in minutes) of the average interruption for each customer served (System Average Interruption Duration Index, or SAIDI), referred to as Average Outage Length
• Average Number of Outages Per Customer (System Average Interruption Frequency Index, SAIFI),
• Average length (in minutes) to restore power following an outage (Customer Average Interruption Duration Index, or CAIDI), referred to as Average Restoration Time
For each metric reported, states are ranked in order from worst performance to best; a high number implies better performance than a low number. A larger value means more minutes of outage, and subsequently worse performance.
Average Outage Length (SAIDI with Major Event Days* [MED]): 6.85 hours, Michigan ranks 18th out of 50 states plus the District of Columbia for the highest Average Outage Length
Average Outage Length (SAIDI without MED): 2.78 hours, Michigan ranks 10th
Average Number of Outages Per Customer (SAIFI with MED): 1.38 outages, 24th
Average Number of Outages Per Customer (SAIFI without MED): 1.08 outages, 20th
Average Restoration Time (CAIDI with MED): 5 hours, 13th
Average Restoration Time (CAIDI without MED): 2.6 hours, 2nd
*Major Event Days (MED). MED are often the result of ice storms, windstorms, wildfires and hurricanes, and can materially affect annual reliability statistics. While reliability metrics that include MED can fluctuate greatly year-to-year, they provide a more accurate representation of customer experience than metrics excluding MED.
The Citizens Utility Board of Michigan is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization whose members are individual residential customers of Michigan’s energy utilities. CUB of MI advocates in support of more reliable power, cost-effective investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy and against unfair rate increase requests.