Thousands who turned out for help with utility bills left upset

More than 5,000 people turned out at the Michigan State fair grounds Wednesday looking for help with their utility bills.

DTE, one of Michigan’s largest utilities, held the forum for customers who are behind on their bills or who may need winter heating assistance.

“They have us out here referring us to agencies they’re not paying bills today. They have us out on the premise that they paying the bills and they not paying the bills,” said Rissa Holmes a DTE customer.

She’s one of more than 5,000 people clinging to an advertisement, in a desperate situation.

“I’ve been paying my bills every two weeks and they cut it off at the line yesterday,” said Holmes.

DTE customers are coming here in droves. Some have bills racked up to hundreds and thousands of dollars. None of these people know what to do.

“I’m hoping that they’re going to be paying bills. At least assisting paying bills. Hope that’s what they’re doing,” said Holmes.

“Literally, people took off work, missing school or anything. All of Detroit out here,” said Alantis Hall, another DTE customer.

They’re filling the theater for presentations. Listening to talks on how to reduce heating costs and increase energy efficiency, and crowding a conference room for non-profit help and information on how to help themselves.

“We do have agencies who have money and some may be able to get their bills paid. Others will need to make payment arrangements. But the bottom line is they will know what assistance they can get,” said Joyce Hayes-Giles, a DTE customer service representative.

Customer assistance doesn’t come with doing completely away with what needs to be paid. But tell that to parents who’ve lost power with nowhere else to turn.

“A lot of people left, I’m not losing my place in line ‘cause I’m already trying to get some help. I have two kids at home.”