Friday, November 4th marked the kickoff of what is planned to be an annual series of events that DTE Energy, along with partner agencies and local faith-based groups, will host to benefit its customers in need in the Grand Rapids area.
The first event, a Customer Assistance Day (CAD), kicked off the series of events at the New Hope Baptist in downtown Grand Rapids. DTE, Consumers Energy, The Heat And Warmth Fund (THAW), TrueNorth, the United Way and The Salvation Army partnered to assist low-income customers with affordable payment plans and energy saving tips.
With cold weather on its way, keeping a house warm and safe is very important and many families struggle with their utility bills. More than one million people in Michigan are living below the federal poverty level. Our state’s struggling economy, paired with our challenging winters, means the need for utility bill payment assistance is immense.
“Through this CAD event, more than 150 local customers benefitted from various utility assistance programs,” said Marcus Pearson, senior continuous improvement analyst, DTE Energy. “Programs such as DTE Energy’s Low Income Self-Sufficiency Plan (LSP) and Consumers Energy’s CARE plan were available to qualifying customers.”.
The second event, Neighborhood Energy Efficiency Day (NEED), occurred Saturday morning, November 5th at the New Faith Temple of God, also in Grand Rapids. A few weeks prior to this event, agency partner Walker-Miller, walked door-to-door throughout the neighborhood inviting residents to a DTE Energy sponsored free luncheon to learn more about energy efficiency and sign up for a free Home Energy Consultation (HEC).
“We are very pleased to have assisted 75 homes during the NEED event,” said David Delind, principal marketing specialist – energy optimization residential programs, DTE Energy. “Eleven of these homes had furnace tune-ups of which three of them will need to be replaced due to potential health and safety issues that may have gone unnoticed if the consultation hadn’t occurred.” The consultation included energy efficiency tools and materials such as water-saving showerheads and faucet aerators, hot water pipe wrap and even programmable thermostats along with energy saving tips to help customers lower their utility bills.
The third and final event, DTE Energy sponsored “Hallelujah for Heat” Gospel Concert, was extremely successful. More than 1,000 customers packed the New Hope Baptist Church to capacity on the evening of November 5th to celebrate and recognize community leaders and energy assistance advocates on their commitment to helping those in need stay healthy, safe and warm throughout the upcoming high heating season.
“Hallelujah for Heat was a great way to honor the efforts of everyone involved in assisting our Grand Rapids customers who are in need of a helping hand,” stated David L. Johnson, senior vice president, Customer Service & Economic Development, DTE Energy. “From our volunteer employees to the faith-based leaders and agency partners, we applaud everyone’s focus on our value of seeing our work through the eyes of those we serve … and know that our work is a powerful means to serve others.”
With the success of these events in Greater Michigan, DTE plans on adding even more events to help assist customers in the 2017 calendar year.