DTE Energy is hearing more and more from customers that salespeople are pitching them to switch to their non-DTE natural gas service. These are known as “alternative gas suppliers”, and they are allowed to contact DTE Gas customers, since Michigan residents have a right to choose what company supplies their natural gas.

While it can be helpful to have options, you should consider several important things when choosing your natural gas supplier.

  • DTE’s natural gas rates are typically among the lowest, if not the lowest, available in Michigan. You should always check the state’s website to compare rates before signing with a supplier.
  • DTE also locks in natural gas pricing up to three years in advance, which protects you from sudden price spikes by smoothing out the highs and lows of supply and demand.
  • DTE’s natural gas rates are regulated by the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) and can’t change without commission approval. On the other hand, AGS rates are typically unregulated by the MPSC and can vary according to the terms these suppliers offer.

“I got a call about a week ago from an alternative gas supplier, and they offered me the first three months of natural gas service for free,” said Sam*, a residential customer in Ypsilanti. “At first I was really interested because who doesn’t love a good deal? But then I looked into the details….”

Sam shared that he initially signed up for the third-party’s rate because their promotional deal looked attractive. However, later that day, Sam was researching natural gas rates through the State of Michigan’s Compare MI Gas online tool and realized that once his three free months were over, he would be on a rate with no guarantee how high it could go. He switched his supplier back to DTE later that night.

“I didn’t like the unregulated part of the deal – plus, I don’t use that much gas in the summer anyway. Offering three months free during the summer is just a way to hook you onto their unregulated rates,” said Sam. “My wife is also the primary account member for our DTE Energy account, so I didn’t like that the supplier was willing to switch our home without talking to her first, too. That seemed like a red flag.”

Other natural gas customers have shared they were switched to another supplier without their knowledge – a tactic called “slamming.” Slamming can occur over the phone or at a customer’s doorstep when a customer shares their DTE account number with a salesperson. Sharing an account number serves as consent to switch the home to an alternative supplier, even if the customer doesn’t realize it.

“I just found out DTE hasn’t been supplying my natural gas since 2019,” said Pamela*, a customer in Reed City. “I don’t remember anyone explicitly saying my supplier would be changed, and no contract was ever shared with me. I would not have changed my supplier at the time if I knew what was going on.”

Unfortunately, Pamela is one of several customers who have shared similar experiences with alternative suppliers. These companies are also now reaching out to customers in Spanish, Arabic and Bengali so they can make their pitches in the customer’s primary language. To help ensure these customers have ALL the information they need to make smart decisions, DTE is also reaching out to these customers with explanations in multiple languages as well.

It’s important to know that DTE does not go door to door offering discounts or asking to review bills at your doorstep or over the phone. If you are unsure you’re speaking with a DTE representative, you should ask for identification or call 800.477.4747 to verify. You can also ask them to advise how much your last bill was because a DTE representative should have access to that information.

You can also follow these three steps to identify what company is your natural gas supplier.

Review your bill.

If DTE supplies your natural gas, your natural gas bill will show the Gas Cost Recovery charge, which is DTE’s cost for the natural gas you use. Note that we do not mark up this cost – we simply charge what we (DTE) paid for the gas.

If you are served by an alternative supplier, your bill will show the name of the company providing your natural gas service and the price they are charging you for their gas, along with a text box identifying you as a “Gas Customer Choice” participant.

Compare prices.

Visit the MPSC’s comparison website to see how DTE’s price compares to alternative suppliers. Some AGS providers may offer variable rates, which can change month-to-month, and may also offer lower introductory rates that can increase after a specific period.

Lock in your supplier.

You can protect your account from slamming by “locking in” your supplier, whether it’s DTE or an alternative supplier, by calling 800.477.4747 and asking to “lock in” your choice.

Have questions? Go to dteenergy.com/gaschoice to learn more or call us at 1.800.477.4747 to “lock in” us (DTE) as your supplier.

*Customers’ names have been adjusted to protect their identities.