Detroit— More than 200 people marched outside of DTE headquarters Thursday afternoon in near-freezing temperatures to protest utility shutoffs of struggling families.
Police mounted on horses stand by as protesters march outside DTE headquarters. (Serena Daniels / Detroit News)
Two Detroit police officers mounted on horses stood by and three city police squad cars parked in front of the headquarters located at One Energy Plaza.
Organizers said a handful of labor organizers wearing neon orange stocking caps were inside the building, prepared for arrest, and asked to meet with DTE President, Chairman and CEO Gerard Anderson, who they were told, was not in the building.
Among concerns among protesters was that the utility is getting tax breaks even as it is increasingly shutting power off to customers. In 2010, DTE posted a $640 million profit, but received a federal tax refund of $172 million — a negative tax rate of 27 percent, according to claims made by Good Jobs Now, a coalition of concerned citizens, clergy leaders and organized labor groups, which helped coordinate Thursday's protest efforts.
In response to such claims, DTE spokesman Alejando Bodipo-Memba said the utility pays its fair share of taxes.
"If you add up the state, federal, payroll and property taxes between 2008 and 2010, DTE paid over $1 billion in combined taxes," Bodipo-Memba said. "DTE utilized federal investment incentives designed to spur investment and create jobs, which we have done. (President) Obama and the U.S. Congress authorized these incentives in response to the economic crisis over the past few years."
Bodipo-Memba added DTE invested $1.6 billion in capital spending last year, a lot of which went toward investing in renewable energy incentives like power plant improvements and wind farms.
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