Regulated Utilities Extend Protections to June 12

Contact: Matt Helms 517-284-8300

Michigan’s regulated utilities have agreed to extend, through mid-June, the shutoff protections, flexible payment plans and other options they’ve offered to help customers struggling to pay utility bills because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.


Utilities, including the state’s two largest Consumers Energy and DTE Energy, have extended protections for vulnerable customers through June 12, 2020, following Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s extension of her Stay Safer at Home order through that date. Filings with the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) were made by utilities this week in Case No. U-20757 to extend these protections and provide more certainty for customers.


The MPSC in April directed regulated electric and natural gas utilities to file affirmations that certain minimum customer protections were in place. The MPSC’s regulatory jurisdiction does not include municipally owned utilities or rural electric co-operatives, but most of these utilities have observed the call for minimum protections and assistance, which include:


  • Suspending disconnections for Michigan’s most vulnerable populations, low-income and senior customers and waiving late fees for eligible low-income customers receiving energy assistance. This includes households facing sudden losses of income or employment because of the pandemic.
  • Allowing for customers exposed to, infected by or quarantined because of COVID-19 to be eligible for a 30-day medical hold to avoid a disconnection of service.
  • Waiving deposits and reconnection fees for low-income customers, seniors and customers experiencing financial hardship related to COVID-19 and seeking restoration of electric or gas service.
  • Extending access to and availability of flexible payment plans to customers financially impacted by COVID-19, and providing customer assistance personnel with the resources necessary to connect customers to available financial assistance and social service agencies.


“The MPSC is encouraged by the utilities’ continued cooperation in assisting customers needing help during such challenging times,” said MPSC Chairman Sally Talberg. “We urge anyone struggling to pay their utility bill to reach out now for help.”


Anyone under financial distress because of COVID-19 is asked to be proactive by:


  • Contacting your utility or propane supplier right away to find out what kind of protections, funding, flexible payment options, or energy saving tools and resources are available.
  • Calling 211 or go to for information about getting help paying your utility bills or how to contact agencies that may assist you with your energy bill.
  • Applying for State Emergency Relief directly through MI Bridges for bill payment assistance or call 855-275-6424. You can also get assistance with the applications process by calling 211 to be referred to a Michigan Energy Assistance Program grantee that can help.
  • Applying for a Home Heating Credit. Visit the Michigan Department of Treasury’s website to see if you qualify. Even though this funding is distributed by the Department of Treasury, you do not need to pay taxes or wait for a tax return to receive this credit, so apply now if you are eligible. For more information, read the MPSC’s Home Heating Credit consumer tip.


Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at and

Michigan Will Add Online Purchasing for people who need to stay home

LANSING, Mich. – To make life easier on families who need to stay home during the pandemic, Michigan families who participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) soon will be able to buy their food online from two national retailers. In addition, the state is also rolling out “quarantine care kits” with essential goods for families with low and moderate incomes who are in quarantine or isolation.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announced today that the state expects to have the online purchase option available before the end of this week. Michigan received approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service to allow SNAP recipients to redeem their food assistance benefits at and

“Before and since the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve worked hard to make it easier for Michiganders to use food aid,” said MDHHS Director Robert Gordon. “Now that families can order groceries online using their EBT cards, it’ll be easier for them to put food on the table. This is especially important for the people who most need to stay home – those who are COVID positive, who are recent close contacts of persons who are positive, or who are vulnerable to COVID due to age or underlying medical conditions.”

Once online purchasing is activated today at 3 p.m. for Amazon and beginning Friday for Walmart, people who receive food assistance will be able to go to the Amazon and Walmart websites and use their  Electronic Benefits Transaction cards – known in Michigan as Bridge Cards – for purchases of eligible food items just as one would use a credit or debit card for an online purchase.

Any delivery fee cannot be paid for using SNAP benefits. Curbside pickup is available at Walmart to avoid a delivery fee. Amazon currently is offering free delivery for orders over $35. Anyone who has cash assistance benefits loaded onto their Bridge Card will not be able to use the cash benefits for online purchases. Women, Infants and Children (WIC) benefits also cannot be used for online purchases.

MDHHS expedited efforts for approval of online purchases when the state was impacted by COVID-19.

In April, more than 1.4 million Michigan residents received food assistance benefits. In recent weeks, the state also has increased the monthly amount of food assistance for many households, provided new or additional benefits for the families of 900,000 children who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches at school, as well as made food assistance available to students in college Career and Technical Education programs.

MDHHS has also begun working with community partners on two projects that deliver food boxes to older adults or people who are otherwise vulnerable due to COVID-19.

The department’s Bureau of Community Action and Economic Opportunity coordinates with local Community Action Agencies around the state to deliver Quarantine Care Kits to eligible households with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. One kit includes food. Another kit includes hygiene and cleaning products, home goods and masks. The priority is to serve people who are in quarantine or isolation as a result of COVID-19 or are vulnerable to the coronavirus due to their age or underlying medical conditions. Anyone who would like more information can call 211.

The MDHHS Aging & Adult Services Agency is also working with Area Agencies on Aging and federal and local partners on a number of food programs during the pandemic. One new program is the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farmers to Families Food Box. Through this program, Van Eerden Foodservice of Grand Rapids and LaGrasso Bros. Produce of Detroit will provide homebound older Michiganders with fresh fruit and vegetable boxes on weekly basis through the area agencies on aging. Anyone who would like information on any area agencies on aging food program can call the Elder Locator at 800-677-1116.

“Quarantine and isolation are not easy for anybody, and they’re especially hard for people with fewer resources,” Gordon said. “We’re doing everything we can to help families do right for their families and for all Michiganders.”

Information around the COVID-19 outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at and

Health Insurance Enrollment Deadlines Approaching for Michiganders

Health Insurance Enrollment Deadlines Approaching for Michiganders

Contact: Laura Hall 517-290-3779

Deadlines are fast approaching for people who lost their health insurance due to layoffs, reduced hours, or a change in income during the COVID-19 pandemic to take advantage of low or no-cost health care options available through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Consumers in these situations must sign up for health insurance within 60 days, which is coming soon for people who were impacted in the early weeks of the COVID-19 response.

“Ensuring Michiganders have access to health care coverage is critical as we continue our ongoing response to COVID-19,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “Resources are available for Michiganders who have been financially impacted during this crisis, and I encourage them to explore these options for their health and the health of their families.”

Michigan has been battling COVID-19 since its first cases were identified in early March, and layoffs have been announced by impacted businesses throughout the following months. Consumers have 60 days after losing health coverage as a result of a job loss or a change in income, to take advantage of a Special Enrollment Period to either temporarily continue their employer-provided coverage under COBRA or purchase coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Consumers may wish to look into the Health Insurance Marketplace, as the Marketplace options may be less expensive than COBRA.

“Michiganders should not delay in enrolling if they lose employer-based health insurance during the COVID-19 crisis,” said Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) Director Anita Fox. “DIFS is available to assist if residents have questions about coverage or enrolling in health insurance.”

To determine eligibility, consumers should visit the Health Insurance Marketplace at Depending on income and their situation, consumers may qualify for cost sharing reductions, premium tax credits, coverage for their children (CHIP), or Medicaid. Consumers should contact DIFS toll free at 877-999-6442 if they need assistance.

Act now and apply

Enrollment help is available

Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at and

Secretary of State Branch Offices to Reopen June 1

Secretary of State Branch Offices to Reopen June 1

Contact: Tracy Wimmer 517-281-1876

Secretary of State branch offices will reopen June 1 by appointment only for essential transactions not available online in order to continue to balance the need to provide critical services and protect public health.


“While the offices were closed to the public we conducted more than 3,000 emergency appointments for essential workers and planned and implemented protocols so that we could reopen in a way that ensures the safety of employees and all Michiganders,” said Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. “Customers can be confident they’ll be able to conduct their business with us safely and efficiently.”


Beginning the week of June 1, all 131 branch offices in Michigan will be open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for appointment-only services for transactions including:


  • Driver licenses and state ID transactions that must be done in person
  • Title transfers
  • Operator, CDL, chauffeur, mechanic and motorcycle testing
  • Seasonal commercial vehicle renewal


Branch staff will follow strict health and safety protocols, including wearing masks, standing six feet apart, using desk shields, and continuously disinfecting shared or common surfaces. Branch doors will be locked, and each branch will have a greeter to let customers with appointments in at scheduled appointment times. A copy of the department’s reopening preparedness plan can be found here.


Anyone scheduling an appointment or receiving an appointment reminder will also be instructed on how to safely attend their appointment by:


  • Arriving at the appointment alone
  • Wearing a mask or homemade face covering over their mouth and nose
  • Waiting in their vehicle or outside prior to the appointment time and maintaining six feet of distance when announcing themselves and their appointment to staff at the doors
  • Following directions on where to stand during the transaction — only stepping forward toward the clerk when providing or retrieving documents
  • Cancelling their appointment if they develop symptoms of COVID-19 or come into contact with someone who has COVID-19 within 14 days of the appointment
  • Adhering to CDC guidelines when in public


In addition to preparing to reopen branches, the Michigan Department of State began sending updated renewal forms this week, color-coded based on the type of transaction needed and with streamlined information to explain how best to conduct the transaction. Renewal forms, which will be mailed in redesigned envelopes measuring 9.5 inches by 6 inches, come in six colors:


  • Red: Vehicle registration
  • Blue: Driver’s license
  • Green: State identification card
  • Teal: Watercraft
  • Gray: Snowmobile
  • Purple: Special plate


Instructions are provided at the bottom of each form to direct customers on options for renewing their credential, providing information on whether they can complete their transaction online, at a self-service station or by mail, or if they will need to schedule an appointment at a branch office.


A sample of the updated renewal forms can be found here. To schedule an appointment visit or call 888-SOS-MICH. Advance appointments can be made up to 180 days ahead of time. Same-day appointments become available 24 hours prior to the appointment time.


Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at and

Bridge demolition requires closing portion of I-75

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                  WEDNESDAY, MAY 27, 2020


CONTACT: Rob Morosi, MDOT Office of Communications, [email protected]


Bridge demolition requires closing portion of I-75 in

Detroit this weekend


Fast facts:

            – MDOT is replacing the Milwaukee Street overpass above I-75.

            – Removing the overpass requires a weekend closure of I-75 between I-94 and M-8 (Davison Freeway) starting at 9 p.m. Friday, May 29.

            – Both directions of I-75 will reopen by 5 a.m. Monday, June 1.


May 27, 2020 — Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) contract crews will be replacing the Milwaukee Street overpass above I-75 in Detroit this year. Due to its current structural condition, the bridge is being replaced in advance of other major improvements on the future I-94 modernization project in Detroit.


The first stage of replacement involves removing the existing structure that was originally constructed in 1969. To accomplish this, both directions of I-75 will be closed between I-94 and M-8 (Davison Freeway) starting at 9 p.m. Friday, May 29. Both directions of I-75 will reopen by 5 a.m. Monday, June l.


During the closure, the posted detour for northbound I-75 follows westbound I-94, northbound M-10 (Lodge Freeway), and eastbound M-8 back to northbound I-75. Southbound I-75 traffic will use westbound M-8 to southbound M-10, back to southbound I-75.

The following ramps will close starting at 7 p.m. on Friday:

– Eastbound and westbound M-8 to southbound I-75,

– Holbrook Avenue to southbound I-75,

– Clay Street to southbound I-75,

– Eastbound and westbound I-94 to northbound I-75, and

– Warren Avenue to northbound I-75.


All ramps, except for Holbrook Avenue to southbound I-75, will reopen by 5 a.m. Monday, June 1. In addition, crews will close the left lane on southbound I-75 from Clay Street to Piquette Avenue starting at 9 a.m. Friday to mobilize demolition equipment.


All work on this $6.1 million investment is scheduled to be completed in early 2021. Due to the structure’s proximity to the I-75/I-94 interchange, this bridge replacement is part of the I-94 modernization project in Detroit that involves rebuilding 7 miles of freeway and replacing more than 60 bridges between Conner Road and I-96.


Follow the I-94 modernization project on the web at or follow on Facebook at or on Twitter at


ESSENTIAL WORK: This road construction project is an essential function. Transportation workers in the field follow Centers for Disease Control guidelines to limit their risk of getting sick.