DTE Energy Holding Company Earnings Call Nuggets: Rate Cases and O&M Outlook

DTE Energy Holding Company (NYSE:DTE) recently reported its first quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call.

Rate Cases

Kevin Cole – Credit Suisse: Congrats on the IRM tracker. Slide 7 is helpful, but, I guess, given your comments, given that this is a five-year tracker, are you expecting that you are going to stay out from filing a DTE Gas rate case for the five-year period, while earning your allowed return?

David E. Meador – EVP and CFO: We will go into multiple year plans next week in more detail, but as you know, one of our (Northstar) is to earn our authorized return year in, year out. We are also very focused as you know also, on cost and customer bills, so our goal is to stay out of rate cases as long as possible, while meeting our objectives and we have laid that out to the electric business, and this tracker, it will allow us to stay out of rate cases for multiple years. So we are evaluating that. Certainly, we will talk in more detail next week, but this is going to give us a period of stability, which is joining the electric business. As I am anticipating, we will not be in rate cases for several years at least.

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Kevin Cole – Credit Suisse: So with the 1Q DTE Gas operating earnings coming in at $96 million versus full year guidance at $113 million to $118 million, that seems to imply that the fourth quarter would be somewhere around $17 million to $22 million, but DTE Gas normally earns or at least should earn between $50 million and $60 million. So for the rest of the year, do you expect to ramp up your O&M spending, and I guess bank some O&M for the future or just kind of come out at the end of the year above your guidance range for DTE Gas?

David E. Meador – EVP and CFO: As you are pointing out this is a great start to the year on many segment of the business and certainly better than last year. Our normal practice is to update our forecast and review that with the Board and evaluate what you are pointing out, which is our lean in an invest scenario. So our goal is to earn our authorized return to the extent that we have favorable conditions, including weather. Our inclination is to pull ahead investments in the business and the opposite is also there. We are evaluating that right now. We are going to talk to our Board and we will take you through that in more detail next week at the Analyst Meeting.

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