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Consumers Energy agrees to $1 million fine for multiple issues affecting customers

A Consumers Energy electric meter on a house in Grand Rapids.
Brett Dahlberg
Michigan Radio
A Consumers Energy electric meter on a house in Grand Rapids.

Consumers Energy has agreed to pay a $1 million dollar fine after an investigation into numerous customer complaints.

The Michigan Public Service Commission found that Consumers Energy was estimating many customers' electric bills because their meters weren't working — and the estimated bills were often excessive.

The MPSC said the meter issue arose as the utility transitioned its electric meters from now-obsolete 3G-based meters to 4G-based meters.

MPSC staff found that due to "supply and staffing constraints," Consumers couldn't meet its expected timeframe to replace the older meters but neglected to notify the MPSC about the delays and service issues.

“It is a fundamental job for a utility to measure the amount of electricity used and then accurately bill their customers,” Commissioner Katherine Peretick said in a statement. “There was a clear and obvious failure here, and this $1 million fine and the corrective actions required in the settlement agreement will hopefully ensure this doesn’t happen again.”

The investigation also found Consumers was taking too long to hook new customers up to electric and gas service.

The commission said Consumers did not contest its recommendations, and has made progress on resolving the problems.

Consumers Energy spokesman Brian Wheeler said the utility remains committed to doing right by its customers.

“We appreciate the opportunity to work with the MPSC and other stakeholders to identify and resolve these issues, and are committed to ensuring they won’t happen again. We want our customers to count on us 24/7, and that starts with delivering the service our customers and the MPSC expect.”

Editor's note: Consumers Energy is a sponsor of WCMU and Michigan Public. We report on them as we do with any other business.

Copyright 2024 Michigan Public

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Radio as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.