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Monthly charge to help poor added to power bills


State regulators have approved a 99-cent monthly fee to help Michigan residents pay their energy bills and avoid a shut-off.


The charge applies to all customers, starting in September, unless a utility opts out of the program. The Michigan Public Service Commission says only a few so far have declined to participate.


The money will be passed to the state of Michigan, which will help low-income residents pay their bills and avoid losing electricity, natural gas or propane, mostly in winter and early spring.


If a utility opts out of the program, it can't cut off power between November and April 15. Michigan's largest utilities, DTE Energy and Consumers Energy, plan to participate.

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