The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Thousands Swamp DTE ‘Assistance Day’

Sep 28, 2009

Thousands of people turned out at the Michigan State Fairgrounds when DTE Energy held a Customer’s Assistance Day, trying to avoid having their power shut off.

So many people responded that the company closed the gates four hours early to handle those who had already gotten in. The lines wrapped around the 160-acre State Fairgrounds. And those were only the people who happened to have heard about the event in advance.

By the company’s own figures, 400,000 out of its 3.2 million customers are unable to keep up their energy payments. DTE ordered over 257,000 utility shutoffs from January 2008 to July 2009, and the pace is increasing.

No wonder so many people cannot afford to pay their bills with the number of surcharges being tacked on to the price of the energy consumed. In some cases, “Delivery charges” like “Distribution” fees, “Energy Optimization” charges, and “Nuclear Decommissioning” surcharges add up to more than half the bill!

The company offers people a “payment” plan under the pretext that this will allow them to pay off their bills, but as soon as they miss one payment, it shuts off the power. In the meantime, they’ve collected money they might not otherwise have gotten. That money will help DTE pay out almost 350 million dollars to its shareholders this year.

This is a picture of what capitalism is doing to people. With the winter months soon approaching, how many people like those who attended “Assistance Day” will be left out in the cold?