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Here is what's happening around
New Year's branding change is a long time in coming
On January 1, our company officially will begin the transition to a single brand: DTE Energy. But, because the DTE Energy brand has been used for years, we aren't saying "out with the old" and "in with the new." It's simply "business as usual."
While the Detroit Edison and MichCon brands will always be a cherished part of our history, we are moving into the future as a unified DTE Energy. Effective January 1, we will retire the MichCon and Detroit Edison names. Externally, we will refer to our electric and gas utility companies as DTE Energy. When we need to make a distinction between these businesses, we will refer to Detroit Edison as DTE Electric and MichCon as DTE Gas.
"Detroit Edison and MichCon have long and proud histories in Michigan, but it is time to move forward with a single brand representing the best of both utilities and our other energy businesses," said Detroit Edison President Steve Kurmas. "Research indicates that our customers already think of us as DTE Energy."
MichCon President Jerry Norcia said, "Many of us may have an emotional attachment to the MichCon and Detroit Edison brands and they will always be a proud part of our heritage. The move to a single brand will reinforce the thinking that we're all one team working together to become a best operated company."
Dave Whitman, director of advertising and brand communications, says, "Our customers already see us as DTE Energy. We need to catch up to them in terms of how they see us."
The change will not be noticeable in the day-to-day life of most. It will begin immediately, but be implemented over time:
Building signs and company vehicles will be replaced with new branding through their natural life cycles, with some higher visibility signs changed sooner.
Customers will start seeing the change on their bills in the first few months of the new year.
The move to a single brand will not involve any changes to your pension benefit or any other company benefits.
From our customers' mouths
When asked how they feel about the move to one brand, most of the customers said they either approve of the change or are neutral. Some said that it is confusing for us to have multiple names, and customers also said they were already very familiar with the DTE Energy name.
Here are some verbatim comments from our customers that were captured when we conducted research:
"Well, it seems like a reasonable thing to do."
"I already think of it as DTE."
"It just makes more sense. Having just one name for all the different companies makes the most sense."
"The name doesn't matter. The price and delivery is what matters."
"If it's the same company and they are providing the same service, then why not simplify the name?"
"I don't really know them as MichCon. I only deal with DTE."
"… it has been changed for a long time already."
"… I think it would be a more efficient way to run the company and it would help keep the costs down."
"Frankly, I thought they were already one. It would end the confusion."
Whitman says, "All changes won't happen overnight. We have updated our brand standards to make sure we're using the DTE Energy brand consistently in all of our communications."
Frequently asked questions
Why are we making this change now?
When DTE and MCN merged in 2001, a decision was made to retain the Detroit Edison and MichCon brands for a period of time to allow the brand equity associated with these two companies to transfer to DTE Energy over time. The intent was always to phase out these brands at some point. While the Detroit Edison and MichCon brands will always be a cherished part of our history, we are moving into the future as a unified DTE Energy.
The move to one brand ties nicely to our value of playing to win as a team and will help pull us together as one company. We will also achieve some efficiency gains by moving to a single brand.
What will happen to the MichCon and Detroit Edison brands?
We will officially begin the transition to DTE Energy on Jan. 1, 2013. Externally, we will refer to our electric and gas utility companies as DTE Energy. When we need to make a distinction between these businesses, we will refer to Detroit Edison as DTE Electric and MichCon as DTE Gas (the formal legal entity name will be DTE Electric Company and DTE Gas Company). This branding approach is consistent with the architecture already in use with many of the non-utility subsidiaries (DTE Energy Trading, DTE Biomass Energy, etc.).
When is it appropriate to use DTE Gas and DTE Electric?
We know that at times a distinction will still have to be made between our utilities. Our intent is for us to think of us as one company and for customers to know us as a single brand -- DTE Energy.
Won't this new branding confuse our customers?
No, in fact our customers already see us as DTE Energy. We have done extensive research on this in our electric and gas service territories. Our research indicates that customers are very familiar with the DTE Energy name.
Will this change my pension or other benefits?
The move to a single brand will include some name changes, but it will not impact payroll or your payroll deductions. Early in April, the company name on your paycheck will change. It will not involve any changes to your pension benefit or any other company benefits.
DTE Energy Foundation to double match DTE Energy employee and retiree contributions to pre-selected local charities
The Foundation is now double matching DTE Energy employee and retiree contributions to various pre-selected local charities. For example, a $50 contribution translates into $150. You may support food banks, shelters and related human service organizations that provide relief for families in need by making a tax deductible contribution via the 2012 Holiday Season Matching Gifts Program.
Here's How it Works:
The DTE Energy Foundation will match eligible donations of between $10 and $1,000 on a dollar-for-dollar basis, until matching funds are exhausted. Last year, employee donations totaling $100,000 were double matched for a total community impact of $300,000.
Each contribution must be a minimum of $10, and the per-donor maximum is $1,000. Contributions received by Wednesday, Dec. 12, will be used to support eligible 501(c)(3) public charities across the DTE Energy service area.
Please be aware of the following guidelines and information to maximize your participation:
- An online giving site has been established by the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan (CFSEM) to accept all donations. Match-eligible nonprofit organizations will be individually listed for selection on the site.
- Only donations made via the online giving site will be eligible for DTE Energy Foundation matching funds.
- If a group of employees has raised funds and they want to pool their donations of cash or checks to receive the match, they must have a person who is willing to use his/her personal credit card or checking account to make the final donation online. However, only that person will receive the tax acknowledgement letter (for the total gift amount) from the Community Foundation via the online giving site.
- Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express credit cards and e-checks (with the donor's bank account information) can be used on the online giving site to make donations.
- The CFSEM will be the direct recipient of your donation.
- The CFSEM is a 501(c)(3) public charity that will make final grants to the selected food and shelter organizations after all of the combined DTE Energy employee and retiree donations and DTE Energy Foundation match amounts are determined. Your 100 percent, tax-deductible gift to the CFSEM will generate an online receipt within minutes of making your donation.
- At the end of the program, the food and shelter nonprofit organizations will receive a list of all donors (without gift amounts) for their records.
- Each designated charity must receive at least four gifts and a minimum of $200 in order to qualify for next year's Holiday Season Matching Gifts program.
*Designation(s): If you do not select specific organizations or your donation exceeds the number of organizations selected, those contributions will be distributed to the approved agencies in allocations as recommended by the DTE Energy Advisory Committee and approved by the CFSEM.
Click here to donate now. The program runs through Dec. 12.
Lock-in feature protects gas customers
MichCon customers now have access to a new account lock-in feature that prevents them from being unknowingly switched to another gas supplier. DTE Energy/MichCon is the first gas utility in Michigan to offer this option to its customers.
To activate the lock, MichCon customers simply need to contact DTE’s call center, 800.477.4747, and make the request. Once the lock is activated, the customer’s account cannot be switched to another gas supplier without the customer first contacting DTE and requesting the lock be removed. There is no cost to the customer to activate or deactivate the lock.
Under the Gas Customer Choice (GCC) program, MichCon customers may choose to purchase their natural gas supply from an alternative gas supplier (AGS), or they may continue to purchase their gas from the utility.
The existing GCC program, administered by the Gas Nominations group, has been in place for more than 10 years. Currently, 220,000 MichCon customers purchase their gas from an AGS. This represents about 18 percent of the 1.2 million customers served by MichCon.
DTE now notifies customers whenever their account is switched to a different supplier. Immediately after a customer is enrolled by an AGS, DTE sends the customer a notification postcard. The postcard informs the customer of the switch, advises them to contact their new supplier with questions, provides MichCon’s Gas Cost Recovery rate, and encourages the customer to visit the DTE website or contact the DTE call center for more information about GCC. Information about the new lock-in account feature is also included in the postcard.
“Based on anecdotal customer feedback, we believe the GCC notification postcard is effective," said Kelly Naragon, manager, Gas Nomination Services. "My staff members and I have spoken to several customers who said they did not realize their account had been switched until they received the postcard from DTE. The notification postcard was initiated in June, and within a few months we’ll be able to formally measure the effectiveness of the communication. In the meantime, however, our customers are telling us it works.”
Naragon asks, “When speaking with customers, friends, or family, please share this new lock-in feature if you believe they would benefit by activating this option. Also, encourage customers to do their homework before making a switch. DTE’s website contains great information designed to help customers make an informed decision.” To learn more, visit the GCC website.
CARE - Clean, Affordable, Renewable Energy
A multimillion-dollar campaign is underway by its supporters to change the state Constitution and force Michigan to generate 25 percent of its electricity from renewable sources. This could ultimately cost Michigan residents at least $10 billion dollars - and severely alter the way our company operates. We need your attention and action now.
At a press conference in Detroit , the newly formed Clean Affordable Renewable Energy (CARE) for Michigan Coalition launched its campaign to defeat this initiative. We urge you to join.
The Coalition includes labor and business, DTE Energy and Consumers Energy, citizen groups and local officials, all who support Michigan's current energy law and oppose attempts to change that standard.
What's wrong with the 25 percent by 2025 ballot campaign?
- We already have a long-term plan that's working.
- It's expensive to Michigan families and businesses.
- It removes the flexibility our state requires to meet evolving energy needs.
- It could change the landscape of our state to accommodate the wind turbines and solar installations required.
"The creation of a 10 percent renewable energy standard in 2008 put Michigan squarely on the path to a brighter energy future," said Fred Shell, vice president, Corporate and Government Affairs. "Electricity providers are making significant progress toward meeting that goal, which was established by the Legislature with overwhelming bipartisan support."
He continued, "The Constitution of Michigan is the wrong place to try and address energy policy for the state because it locks in energy policy for decades to come and makes it impossible to respond to changes in the state's economy and customer demands.
"Any consideration of raising the state's renewable energy standard should wait until after 2015, when the 10 percent standard can be evaluated based on a number of key factors," Shell said.
Those voicing their opposition to the ballot initiative at the Detroit press conference included Hon. Judge Conrad Mallett, former Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court and current Chief Administrative Officer for Detroit Medical Center, Ben Erulkar, senior vice president of the Detroit Regional Chamber and Steve Transeth, former commissioner of the Michigan Public Service Commission (appointed by former Gov. Jennifer Granholm) and now senior energy policy advisor for CARE.
Kevin Shaffer, leader, Distribution, Lapeer Service Center and business agent, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) represented labor, along with Mike Langford, national president, Utility Workers Union of America AFL-CIO.
Additional press conferences will be held throughout the state this week to kick-off the CARE campaign. Speakers at the Lansing event will include Pat Dillon, Michigan State Utility Workers Council President, Pat Devlin, Building and Construction Trades, Sen. Mike Nofs and Rep. Thomas Stallworth.
CARE Michigan supports our business priority: Create a highly constructive political and regulatory context that enables DTE Energy's success.
Your help is needed to defend our dividends!
Your help is needed on an issue that could significantly impact seniors and retired Americans, our company, and the still-fragile U.S. economy.
As you may know, current dividend tax rates, which now are capped at 15 percent, are set to expire on December 31. Unless Congress and the President act quickly to stop this impending tax hike, today’s dividend tax rates could soar by as much as 189 percent. This could create adverse consequences for millions of Americans and for capital-intensive, dividend-paying companies like DTE Energy.
The U.S. House of Representatives plans to vote on an extension of current dividend tax rates the last week in July. Our company is participating in the national Defend My Dividend campaign, which supports retention of lower dividend tax rates that are on par with the tax rates for capital gains. We face an uphill congressional battle, and we need your help now.
Here are two ways you can get involved in the fight to stop a dividend tax hike:
· Visit www.DefendMyDividend.org/dteenergy to send letters to your members of Congress. From the homepage, click Act Now. After you enter your contact information on the registration form, the website will use your Zip Code to automatically match you with your legislators so you can e-mail them directly.
Follow the prompts and use the talking points below as needed. Please remember to leave your name and home address so your members of Congress know you are a constituent.
· Call your members of Congress with an easy-to-use toll-free number, 1-888-443-5863. After you enter your home Zip Code, the system will connect you directly to the offices of your members of Congress. Your phone number will be displayed to your legislators to ensure that your calls are properly recorded as constituent outreach.
Use these talking points to get the conversation started:
– Hello. My name is [NAME] and I'm calling from [CITY/TOWN] to ask [THE CONGRESSMAN/CONGRESSWOMAN/SENATOR] to stop a dividend tax hike.
– As a retiree and a voter, I am worried about the impact that higher dividend taxes will have on me and millions of other Americans. [DESCRIBE WHY DIVIDENDS ARE IMPORTANT TO YOU.]
– I am also worried about our nation’s very fragile economy, and now is not the time to reduce dividend income through higher taxes.
– Please register my support for extending current dividend tax rates for all Americans. Thank you for your time.
Thank you in advance for your continued support of our company and for participating in this important campaign!
DTE Energy increases dividend.
The DTE Energy Board of Directors has declared a $0.62 per share dividend on its common stock payable Oct. 15, to shareholders of record at the close of business Sept. 17. This is a $0.0325 per share, or 5.5 percent, increase from the previous quarterly dividend.
James Nicholson was named to DTE Energy board of directors on June 14.
Nicholson is president and CEO of Detroit-based PVS Chemicals Inc., positions he has held since 1979. He joined the company as vice president in 1972, and in 1977 assumed the additional duties of treasurer.
Prior to PVS, Nicholson held positions with First National Bank of Chicago in London and Dublin.
"We are pleased that Jim has agreed to join our board of directors," said Gerry Anderson, chairman, president and CEO. "As a proven business leader, his experience with various corporate boards and his leadership in the community will make him a valuable asset on the board."
Nicholson, a resident of Grosse Pointe Farms, earned his bachelor's degree in economics from Stanford University and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Chicago. He also received a Master of Science in economics from the London School of Economics.
Among his civic activities, Nicholson is board chairman of the McGregor Fund and the Futures Foundation. He is a member and past chairman of the boards of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Detroit Public Television. He is a member of the boards of the Community Foundation for Southeastern Michigan, the Parade Company, Michigan Colleges Foundation, the Detroit Economic Club and the New Economy Initiative. Nicholson this year also was appointed chairman of the Business Leaders for Michigan.
In 2006, President George W. Bush appointed Nicholson to the National Infrastructure Advisory Council, and in 2011, he was appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder to the state Investment Advisory Committee.
Nicholson is chairman of the board of the Amerisure Companies and a member of the boards of PrivateBancorp Inc., Cooper Natural Resources and the American Chemistry Council.
CURRENT ISSUES: Stop a dividend tax hike. Contact Congress now!
Current tax rates on dividend income, which now are capped at 15 percent, are set to expire on December 31. For the millions of Americans who own stocks that pay dividends, their tax rates on this income would surge—almost tripling in some cases. Now is not the time to reduce dividend income through higher taxes and penalize Americans who invest in our nation’s future. Your voice matters—use this site to tell Congress to stop a dividend tax hike!
Our company reports first quarter 2012 results; maintains earnings guidance.
Today, our company reported first quarter 2012 earnings of $156 million, or $0.91 per diluted share, compared with $176 million, or $1.04 per diluted share, in 2011.
Unusually warm weather negatively impacted first quarter earnings at MichCon, Detroit Edison and Energy Trading.
Operating earnings for the first quarter 2012 were $156 million, or $0.91 per diluted share, compared with 2011 operating earnings of $188 million, or $1.11 per diluted share. Operating earnings exclude non-recurring items and discontinued operations.
"The extremely warm weather this winter translated into lower heating bills for customers. At the same time, it created clear challenges for us," said Dave Meador, executive vice president and chief financial officer. "This quarter's earnings were lower than expected because of the weather, but we believe that by leveraging DTE Energy's portfolio of businesses, using our distinctive continuous improvement program and through one-time cost reductions, we will identify opportunities throughout the balance of the year to offset the impacts of this unfavorable weather and meet our financial goals."
Our company reiterated our 2012 operating earnings guidance of $3.65 to $3.95 per diluted share. Read more about our first quarter results here.
New "DreamTrips" vacation benefit for DTE Energy employees and retirees
Our company is offering you the opportunity to travel for less. When you become a member of the DreamTrips Vacation membership through Rovia Travel, you’ll enjoy 4 & 5 star vacations at 2 & 3 star prices.
Choose from a wide variety of pre-packaged, scheduled DreamTrip Vacations packed with added values and amenities...at wholesale-like pricing. Vacation planning is easy and stress free, because all the work is done for you!
Aside from the scheduled DreamTrip vacations, you will also have access to hotel and resort getaways all over the globe, so you can escape to anytime at substantial savings.
The DreamTrips Vacation membership is a unique voluntary benefit available to DTE Energy employees and retirees. See the flier for DreamTrips enrollment details. Due to special pricing for DTE Energy, please contact Lecia Brunetti, 248.971.0442, for the username/password needed to enter the website. Interested in having Lecia stop by and explain the vacation program at your next social event or retiree group meeting? Please call 248.971.0442 to make arrangements.