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Posted on Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 3:20 p.m.

DTE shuts off power at 2 more downtown Ypsilanti businesses owned by David Curtis

By Tom Perkins

Six days after DTE Energy shut off power at Pub 13 and Savoy, the lights were turned out at the two other David Curtis owned businesses on the same downtown Ypsilanti block.

Curtis said DTE turned off electricity J Neil’s Mongolian Grill and Key Stone Underground martini bar on Tuesday.

But Curtis said he is current on his payments at the two establishments and there is no dispute over back payments as there is with Savoy and Pub 13.

A DTE spokesman said their records indicated less than half of the bill at 200 W. Michigan Ave. was paid on Nov. 3. The bill covers both establishments, which are at the intersection of West Michigan Avenue and North Washington Street.

They're also anchor establishments for downtown Ypsilanti's restaurant and nightlife business.

Curtis said his bills show the next payments for Key Stone and J Neil’s is due Dec. 21 and he has no explanation as to why power was shut off now.

“We’ve been there paying our bills, so it seems like DTE is pissed off right now,” he said. “I’m trying to work with them so that all the electricity doesn’t get turned off.”

Curtis expects the issue to be resolved today and said his bookkeeper has been in touch with DTE representatives. If power is restored this evening or tomorrow as Curtis expects, he said he has arranged for a delivery of fresh food so J Neil’s can reopen Friday night.

Electricity bills are roughly $3,000 monthly at J Neil’s and Key Stone, Curtis said.

Curtis also is continuing to deal with a dispute with DTE over what is owed for electricity at Pub 13 and Savoy. A faulty multiplier in a meter caused Curtis to be undercharged for electricity from 2002 to 2009. DTE employees caught the error last year and sent Curtis a bill for more than $30,000, though a DTE spokesman says that figure is significantly higher when including current charges that are past due.


Cooks at J. Neils Mongolian Grill when the restaurant opened in downtown Ypsilanti in spring 2009. files

Curtis will next go with his attorney to the Michigan Public Service Commission. He said he hopes to resolve situation in the coming weeks, regroup and have Pub 13 open by the end of the month or January.

Curtis said he is determined to reopen all of his bars and night clubs, which occupy most of a block of North Washington Street in Ypsilanti.

“I don’t wish this on anyone,” Curtis said.



Mon, Dec 27, 2010 : 2:40 p.m.

Yeah, I would love an update as well.


Sun, Dec 19, 2010 : 8:22 a.m.

How about an update on this story?


Fri, Dec 17, 2010 : 2:53 p.m.

do not feel bad for Dave, he ran that business into the ground. He failed time and time again to supply product, He disappointed customer after customer. I worked there nearly 50 hours a week and saw the damage one man can do. He bounced check after check and now isn't responding to his employees about the lose of wage (he owes me personally around $500). He hadn't stepped foot in that place in nearly 3 months. Dave has done this to himself and i hope that DTE takes him for all he's worth since none of his employees are gonna see the money he owes them. He has left other employees a lot worse off with then me and Dave should have to answer for his negligence.

Honest Abe

Sat, Dec 4, 2010 : 2:31 p.m.

DTE must also have prevented him from paying the $45,000 plus dollars in property tax over the last few years too! That dang it ole DTE, they will get ya! Pfffff please........Oooops, I did not get a raise at my job, blame DTE.......I hurt my back shoveling...blame DTE Uh-ohhhh, my wife is in a bad mood today, blame DTE.......Whoa, I had a flat tire today, blame DTE

Honest Abe

Sat, Dec 4, 2010 : 2:11 p.m.

So let me guess, although Jneils and keystone are seperate buildings that Dave leases from Eric Maurer, those meters must be faulty too????? There is more then you believe to Dave's DTE problems. I know this for fact!


Sat, Dec 4, 2010 : 7:15 a.m.

Matt Cooper, How do you prove the amount is correct? The meter according to DTE did not work properly. The meter measures the power used. You say "I'm willing to bet that 1. there are ways to correctly tabluate an accurate bill (just because we don't know what they are doesn't mean they don't exist)". I don't have nearly that much blind faith in DTE or any other monopoly.

Matt Cooper

Fri, Dec 3, 2010 : 9:05 p.m.

Argue it all you want cash, but the bottom line is you don't get to use their power for 8 years and think you get to walk when they send you the correct bill by simply saying "Well hey, the messed up, that's their problem". I'm willing to bet that 1. there are ways to correctly tabluate an accurate bill (just because we don't know what they are doesn't mean they don't exist), and 2. that when DTE offered a settlement on the money owed on the old bills they probably gave Mr. Curtis a break on the actual amount owed (something a long the lines of "ok, Mr. Curtis, you ate 30 grand worth of hot dogs, but we'll only seek payment for 20 grand worth). Either way, no matter how you cut it, he owes money, he didn't pay what he owed, and his power got shut off. Period.


Fri, Dec 3, 2010 : 7:23 p.m.

Matt Cooper, There are so many points that you are missing. 1. He was paying the bills that DTE sent to him. 2. They made an error and decided the bill was substantially more than they had been billing him. 3. They admitted the meter was broken! 4. They cannot quantify the amount of power used...because again, the meter was BROKEN. He has no idea how much he REALLY owes - the meter was BROKEN as DTE admits! Even at that he had been making payments. Now, if you went out to eat and the menu said your bill would be $100 and after you ate the meal they gave you a bill for $100 and then when you went up to pay, they say they made a mistake and gave you a corrected bill for $1,000, would you just say "Oh I ate the food so I should pay whatever they want to charge me?" No one in their right mind would do that. That is a comparable "out to dinner" situation. The amount they charge is not what they billed. The charge cannot be justified. Yet the restaurant demands more money because they say that is the correct amount for the food you just ate. They can't prove it, but hey, they area business and have to get paid.

Matt Cooper

Fri, Dec 3, 2010 : 5:34 p.m.

@cash "Uh, these businesses were Dave's sole revenue source. By cutting off all of his revenue, he will not ever be able to pay the bill." So DTE had finally had enough. You can't just let the bill keep growing larger and larger in the hopes that he might someday pay what he owes. At some point, because they run a business just like he does, they have to draw the line and say "Ok, you owe us enough money, we're not providing your services anymore until you pay what you owe". If those businesses were his dream he should have regarded them in such a way as to be able to keep them going without interruption. If you walked in and bought dinner for yourself and your family, would he let you skate simply because you claim to not have any money? I'm thinking not. He would call the police and sue you to recoup the losses for services rendered. Or is it that DTE doesn't have the same rights all other business owners have?


Fri, Dec 3, 2010 : 11:50 a.m.

Matt Cooper, Uh, these businesses were Dave's sole revenue source. By cutting off all of his revenue, he will not ever be able to pay the bill. If Dave was wise, he'd just give up and walk away. But his heart is in Ypsi....and he is still thinking with his heart. Those businesses were his life's his heart he thinks he can work this out and reopen.

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Dec 3, 2010 : 11:50 a.m.

Matt Cooper@ "I find it amusing that some of you think that because the power meter was faulty, and that because it was owned by DTE, that Mr. Curtis' other businesses should get free power and never have to repay a dime of the back money owed." I can't speak for others but I don't suggest anyone get a "free pass". I do suggest that if the DTE meter measuring usage was faulty how does DTE come up with a "correct" number after the fact?


Fri, Dec 3, 2010 : 11:25 a.m.

It's cold outside. I hope DTE doesn't treat it's residential customers the same way.

Matt Cooper

Fri, Dec 3, 2010 : 10:19 a.m.

@oldbluypsi Why would DTE be "taken to the cleaners financially for its "faulty" meter"? They aren't the ones that didn't pay the bill.


Fri, Dec 3, 2010 : 10:08 a.m.

DTE has a policy of transferring past due bills to a current account. The current account then becomes "past due". Gotcha!! How long did it take DTE to discover its "faulty" meter? Who, other than DTE, tested the meter? The article states that "DTE turned off electricity" on Tuesday. Since DTE has combined electric and gas services on one bill, did DTE also turn off the gas in these establishments? Given the fact that heat in many of the older buildings in the area is provided by either low pressure steam or hot water boiler systems (both gas fired), below freezing temperatures could cause pipes to break with substantial resulting damage. If DTE is taken to the cleaners financially for its "faulty" meter, all DTE customers will share in the cost. After all, the MPSC guarantees the return on investment to this monopolistic utility. Between the exhorbitant cost of DTE's services in Ypsilanti, the roughly 80% surcharge imposed by YCUA for water and sewer services in downtown Ypsilanti, and the ludicrous City of Ypsilanti property asssessments and tax rates, it is amazing that any business owner can survive. (Please see Steve Pierce's comments) Will the last person to leave Ypsilanti please turn off the lights? Or better yet, turn them all on, DTE will turn them off.

Matt Cooper

Fri, Dec 3, 2010 : 8:49 a.m.

I find it amusing that some of you think that because the power meter was faulty, and that because it was owned by DTE, that Mr. Curtis' other businesses should get free power and never have to repay a dime of the back money owed. Just because they underbilled due to a meter that was not operating properly doesn't mean you get a free pass. Yes, it sucks to be hit with such a huge bill all at one time when you thought you were current, but bottom line is if you use the power, you have to pay for it. Had Curtis actually worked with DTE the way he claims to have done, I don't think this would be an issue. I have seen a few other businesses with simliar issues and they were fine so long as they worked out a payment agreement with DTE and made their scheduled payments on time.


Fri, Dec 3, 2010 : 7:54 a.m.

The key issue here is the high cost of electricity. The story says $3000 per month for the 2 places. Energy is expensive and the cost effects all businesses. Mr. Curtis' small businesses employs many people and are vital to Ypsi's downtown. He needs to pay his electric bill, but the MPSC needs to work smarter to increase the supply of, and cost of energy.


Fri, Dec 3, 2010 : 7:13 a.m.

glimmertwin, Yes they are in the same block....only an alley separates them. And it's clear that DTE knows they are shutting down the same person at all locations....bringing him to his knees in front of them.


Fri, Dec 3, 2010 : 5:25 a.m.

Something is not right. These buildings are not even on the same block. There is no error. There is more to the story.

Steve Pierce

Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 10:36 p.m.

How do you make a small fortune running your own business? Start with a big one?

dading dont delete me bro

Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 10:33 p.m.

that's going to be one dark block in town...


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 9:59 p.m.

Someone actually believes that a person trying to run a business downtown is a milionaire? Are you kidding? This is Michigan Ave., not Rodeo Drive.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 9:49 p.m.

"... I used to live in an area with a Rural Electric Cooperative....they were much more responsive to the customers; after all, they were the shareholders." It would be great to reorganize DTE and other profit-obsessed energy monopolies into similar public-private cooperatives. Let these utilities be run instead by a board of directors consisting of publicly-elected individual consumers, while internal, customer-driven committees help monitor the quality and fairness of customer service. That might not fix everything, but it would certainly reduce the systematic bullying of residents and businesses.

Huron 74

Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 8:56 p.m.

The wealth of this man is of no consequence. I'm sure DTE has more. DTE's equipment was faulty. Now they want him to pony up $30k in back charges? If this guy is smart, he can get the $30k erased by suing DTE for accounting fees to redo his books and taxes for those years. I'm glad this was reported for all to read. DTE should be ashamed of themselves.

Fat Bill

Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 8:12 p.m.

Since DTE is allowed to have an exclusive franchise on power delivery, they should be held to a higher standard. I used to live in an area with a Rural Electric Cooperative. We read our own meters and sent the information on a postcard every month. The cooperative was goverened by a board; they were much more responsive to the customers; after all, they were the shareholders.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 7:06 p.m.

Who owns the faulty electrical meter? Who is responsible for the maintenance on the meter? Who is responsible for the accuracy of the meter? Who calibrates the meter? When was it calibrated last? DTE sounds liable to me.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 7:01 p.m.

Lorie, I completely agree about MPSC. Today they heaped kudos on DTE for the Fire Storm in Detroit this fall...said they did a great job! No doubt power theft was a problem but there were also elderly citizens who had reported problems for weeks before the fires and been ignored. No mention of that in the MPSC report. Just kudos to DTE! And DTE told MPSC they did a great job on the report. You pat my back.......


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 6:48 p.m.

a slight correction. DTE's lawyers aren't all that swift except for transactional attorneys. The problem is that you have to go to the Public Service Commission and those folks are more like DTE Proponents that consumer advocates. They know the DTE people, they work with them every day...good ol' boys network. Some are former (and possibly future) employees and that is the challenge as well.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 6:34 p.m.

Craig Lounsbury, I'm sure a lawsuit is in the mill....however really what chance does the average person have with the stable of lawyers lined up for DTE? It's a stacked deck. And of course DTE knows that.

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 6:26 p.m.

I gave the benefit of the doubt to Mr. Curtis in the other story. But now I'm not so sure. If his ducks are in order as he describes it seems his lawyer could sue DTE. I realize the budget for investigative reporting is not what it used to be but is it possible for to confirm whether he is up to date or 50% short om his last bill? It shouldn't be that hard to compare a bill from DTE with a record of payment.

Woman in Ypsilanti

Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 5:58 p.m.

This is really upsetting to me. I love going to the Mongolian BBQ place in Ypsilanti. If it turns out that the power was turned off even though the bill is paid, I hope Mr. Curtis successfully sues them for the lost revenue plus legal fees.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 5:51 p.m.

DTE thinks everyone is rich like them. They changed our meter read dates a couple months ago,and really expect people to pay two bills in one month.When I explained to DTE that I need the full month to pay,the response was "TOO Bad we changed dates and thats it " Not the most understanding company


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 5:37 p.m.

Atticus, A millionaire? Bwahhaaaa...clearly you have never tried to operate a business in Downtown Ypsilanti. Goodness. Your assessment is about as far off as any I've heard in my entire 66 years of life. I'm not going to get into his personal financial situation. But to assume anyone trying to make a go of it in downtown Ypsi is getting rich... is just plain wrong, to put it nicely.

Atticus F.

Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 5:33 p.m.

I'm just saying that the guy has to be a millionaire 10x over...If you want to boo hoo over some wealthy business owner getting shut down, go ahead and cry your eyes out. I personally think there are far greater injustices for me to lose sleep over.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 5:26 p.m.

Atticus, Did you buy anything or just throw $100 at the place? I am not sure how the fact you went to one of the establishments one night and spent money and received something in return impacts the fact that DTE has created a "Vapor Bill" that they demand Dave pay. There's no documentation. The meter wasn't working!!! Hello?

Atticus F.

Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 5:22 p.m.

Somehow I dont feel too sorry for this guy...The last time I was at Savoy, I blew through $100 like it was monopoly money. And there were about 500 other people there spending as much as me.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 4:26 p.m.

Vengeance is mine, sayeth DTE. You don't dare mess with the Almighty Power Company. They will crush you.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 3:39 p.m.

Something is missing: Where's a follow-up partner blog article about how some former manager of J. Neil's Mongolian and Keystone leaves to open a new mongolian grille and martini bar somewhere right away?