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DETROIT EDISON TO OFFER $5.6 MILLION TO AID LOW-INCOME CUSTOMERS

 DETROIT EDISON TO OFFER $5.6 MILLION TO AID LOW-INCOME CUSTOMERS
 DETROIT, Nov. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Detroit Edison (NYSE: DTE) will provide $5.6 million for energy-management and bill-payment programs aimed at helping its low-income customers avoid electric service shutoffs this winter and helping shelters for the homeless pay their own electric bills.
 "Our effort addresses a growing community need through both direct funding of bill payments and programs aimed at reducing electricity use to levels low-income customers can afford," said Robert J. Buckler, Detroit Edison vice president for Divisions.
 Buckler announced a $4.6 million energy-management program in which Detroit Edison energy specialists will visit low-income customers in their homes to advise them how to reduce electrical usage to levels they can afford. The utility will couple this effort with matching donations of up to $1 million to help customers and homeless shelters pay their electric bills this winter, he said.
 To help low-income customers reduce their bills, Detroit Edison will install conservation devices such as energy-efficient light bulbs and electric water heater insulation wraps. The utility also will replace defective primary refrigerators at a nominal charge for customers identified during visits that company representatives make to homes.
 Along with personal help in reducing electricity usage and bills, Detroit Edison will offer special payment plans through which low-income customers with unpaid bills can avoid shutoffs.
 Under one such plan, customers who qualify can avoid shutoffs by reducing their usage to levels agreed to during home assistance visits. Customers must then make the agreed-upon payment each month. If customers successfully reduce usage below the agreed-upon levels, the difference will be applied to their previous balances. Through a similar program on a smaller scale, Detroit Edison has completed more than 12,000 home visits to date.
 The utility will provide the energy-management program and donations to homeless shelters and an energy-assistance organization at shareholder expense rather than customer expense.
 Other payment programs available to low- and no-income customers include:
 -- Winter Protection Plan: Customers avoid shutoffs from Nov. 15 through March 31 when they pay at least 7 percent of their estimated annual bills and also make regular monthly payments on any Detroit Edison bills that are overdue as of Dec. 1, 1992. Overdue payments are divided into equal monthly amounts between the time the customer requests the plan and November 1993. Enrollment for the 1992-93 program begins Nov. 15.
 -- Detroit Edison Settlement Agreement: Detroit Edison develops individualized payment plans geared to the customer's ability to pay, the size of the customer's previous balance and the customer's payment history. The primary objective of the program is to keep the electricity on during the Winter Protection period.
 In addition, all Detroit Edison customers age 62 and older are exempt from service shutoffs between now and March 31, 1993.
 Detroit Edison also will match donations made by the utility's customers to The Heat and Warmth Fund (THAW), an organization which provides energy assistance to those who have exhausted or do not qualify for other sources of aid.
 "Last year's THAW donation program helped nearly 2,600 families and proved an effective means of addressing the problem," Buckler said. "Our customers generously donated more than $372,000 to THAW to help those who had no other source of aid. Detroit Edison provided more than $800,000 to THAW in matching contributions and for administrative costs."
 Created in 1987, THAW is a non-profit organization composed of southeastern Michigan community agencies, businesses and churches. Annual contributions from utility customers assist the working poor, elderly, disabled and unemployed -- people who sometimes need a helping hand with their energy bills.
 Detroit Edison residential and commercial customers will be asked to contribute to THAW in special bill inserts and "Bright Ideas," Detroit Edison's customer newsletter.
 In addition, designated permanent homeless shelters throughout Detroit Edison's service area again will receive bill payment credits from the utility to help them through the winter months. Energy assistance to homeless shelters will cover bills due between Jan. 1 and April 30, 1993.
 "Last winter, we provided $102,000 in bill credits to 58 permanent homeless shelters," Buckler said.
 Starting this month, Detroit Edison customer representatives will visit all homes where electric service is shut off for nonpayment. Customers who qualify for energy assistance will be advised at that time about the utility's payment plans and the various energy-assistance programs available.
 "We want to work with our customers to help them avoid shutoffs," Buckler said. "I would urge any customer who is having -- or anticipates -- problems paying bills to contact Detroit Edison so we can work together to keep the service on."
 For assistance or more information, customers can call Detroit Edison toll-free at 1-800-477-4747.
 -0- 11/12/92
 /CONTACT: Mary Kay Bean, 313-237-8809, or Lorie N. Kessler, 313-237-8807, both of Detroit Edison/
 (DTE) CO: Detroit Edison ST: Michigan IN: UTI SU:


JG-SM -- DE018 -- 0139 11/12/92 11:22 EST
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Date:Nov 12, 1992
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