Racial Equity

What to do if your electricity is shut off in Michigan?


When a household has its electricity disconnected, children and families face direct health, environmental, and social impacts. While many states and utilities suspended disconnections during the pandemic, more than 250,000 disconnections occurred in Southeast Michigan in 2020 and 2021, which continue today.

If you, or someone you know, is affected by utility disconnections in Michigan, ProPublica and Outlier Media have co-published What to Do If Your Electricity Is Shut Off in Michigan, which details consumers’ rights and provides resources toward resolution.

What to Do If Your Electricity Is Shut Off in Michigan

by Alyssa Johnson and Erin Smith

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox.

Michigan has some of the highest electricity rates in the nation. In fact, only 10 states have rates that are more expensive, based on federal data from 2021. Here’s what Michigan residents need to know if you find yourself facing a shut-off because you can’t afford your bill.

What are my rights?

  • Your utility must mail a shut-off notice at least 10 days before turning off your power for nonpayment. It must also try to contact you by phone the day before the shut-off.
  • You can sign up for a payment plan with your utility.
  • You can delay a shut-off for up to three weeks if you or someone in your home has a serious medical condition and you submit a signed form from your doctor, like this one for DTE Energy or this one for Consumers Energy.
  • If you are 65 or older, your power cannot be shut off between Nov. 1 and March 31. (DTE provides the same protections for people 62 or older.)
  • Your electricity cannot be shut off when utility workers are not available to turn your power back on that day or the next.
  • Your utility cannot shut off your power in extreme weather. Consumers Energy suspends or cancels shut-offs when temperatures are above 90 degrees or below 15 degrees or when the windchill is below 0 degrees. DTE will not shut off power when forecasts dip to 15 degrees, windchill is below zero for at least two days in a row or temperatures are at least 90 degrees for at least two days in a row.

I believe my utility company violated my rights. What can I do?

You can file an informal complaint online with the Michigan Public Service Commission.

  • You can also call 800-292-9555 Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., except holidays.
  • You can also mail your complaint to: MPSC Customer Assistance, P.O. Box 30221, Lansing, MI 48909.

Your utility company must delay any shut-offs while the MPSC investigates an informal complaint. You can expect to receive a response from the MPSC to your informal complaint within 10 business days.

You can also file a separate formal complaint and ask for an administrative law judge to hear your case. To file a formal complaint, you must submit three copies of your written complaint with a detailed description of what happened, what rules you believe the company broke, all documents and evidence you want to use at the hearing and what you are seeking from the utility. While you await your hearing, your utility must delay shut-offs.

I need help finding resources to pay my electric bill in Detroit. Whom can I contact?

Call 211 for resources to help you pay your utility bill. Or you can text DETROIT to 67485 for an automated list of current resources compiled by Outlier Media. You can also use the Outlier texting platform to talk to a reporter. (Message and data rates may apply; you will receive no more than four messages per month. Reply HELP for help or STOP to cancel at any time. Read the privacy policy and terms.)

Header image by Luis Tosta on Unsplash.


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