Angry DTE customers march outside HQ Feb. 17, 2012


By Diane Bukowski 

February 20, 2012 

DETROIT  —  Bishop William Starghill told VOD Feb. 17 that he and other pastors from western Wayne County had scheduled a meeting with DTE representatives for that day, to follow-up on issues raised by hundreds of protesters who occupied DTE’s downtown lobby for an hour January 26. 

(Story at http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/01/29/angry-protesters-occupy-dte-headquarters/.) 

Bishop William Starghill of Face-to-Face Outreach Ministries in Inkster leads chants

“We were supposed to meet with Mark Cousino and staff,” Starghill said outside the headquarters, as hundreds of protesters rallied again, chanting, “DTE, pay your taxes,” and “No more shut-offs!” Cousino is president of DTE Biomass Energy, a division of DTE Energy. 

“We had an agenda set up for the meeting, but when they found out we were bringing our membes too, they canceled,” Bishop Starghill said. “However, we will not be moved. Pastors representing the 99 percent and our supporters are going to present the names of 1500 customers who are in shut-off status or close to it. We are demanding no shut-offs, bill reductions, and assistance on payments. DTE can certainly afford it. Their CEO Gerard Anderson made $8.5 million last year.” 

DTE CEO Gerard Anderson

According to a public website, Anderson lives at 191 Orchard Hills Ct, Ann Arbor, MI 48104. This is also the address for the two-acre Frank Lloyd House Palmer House, located on a secluded forested site in suburban Ann Arbor.

DTE Energy also reported revenues last year of $8.9 billion, up from $8.6 billion the year before. Their 2011 operating earnings were $633 million, compared with 2010 operating earnings of $607 million. (Click on  DTE Energy Reports Solid 2011 Results for DTE’s full release.) 

Protesters carried large placards with the names of the 1500 needy customers listed. Bishop Starghill presented the list to a DTE representative outside the building. Neither the Bishop nor any of the protesters were allowed inside this time. 

Part of the two-acre Frank Lloyd Wright Palmer House where DTE's CEO apparently resides

Alejandro Bhodipa-Mejia, press spokesman for DTE, said, “DTE has looked into the cases and is investigating each and every one of the names provided and the circumstances of each account. We don’t have a timeline for completion.” 

VOD asked why DTE with its substantial revenues and profits cannot forgive the bills of the customers involved, or at least establish income-based, affordable rates. 

Bhodipa-Mejia quoted from a public utilities report, “Private individuals and corporations cannot, between themselves, enter into a contract to oust the state of its power and authority to regulate rates and prevent unjust discrimination.” 

Sylvia Young's house on Bangor, where her three toddlers died in a fire after DTE shut off power in 2009; youth outside include those who tried to rescue the children

He said DTE held 170 customer assistance events last year, helped The Heat and Warmth Fund (THAW) and other non-profit agencies raise $123 million to assist low-income customers, and takes 6.5 million customer calls every year asking for help. 

He did not have figures on the current number of DTE customers in Michigan in shut-off status, but said he would provide them later. He denied DTE has any tax delinquencies and said the company paid over a billion dollars in federal, state and local taxes last year. 

However, the Wayne County Treasurer’s website indicates that DTE owes $1,353,931.78 in personal property taxes applicable to its address at 2000 Second, for the year 2005. Under current state law, such a delinquency would mean the resident of the address involved would have been foreclosed on and had its property sold at auction by now. 

“I just bought a house, and to think that if I don’t pay my property taxes, I will lose it, angers me when I see DTE get away with not paying their taxes,” said protester Dannette Hollingshead. 

Keith Owens, press spokesman for the Wayne County Treasurer’s office, has not yet responded to a phone call and emails sent to him asking him to verify DTE’s delinquency, as well as provide data on DTE’s tax status on its other sites in Wayne County.

 “WE’LL BE BACK!” protesters chanted angrily as they left.

Protesters carried signs with names of 1500 customers facing shut-off


Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comment moderation is enabled. Your comment may take some time to appear.