Thursday, September 16, 2021

Wayne officials demand answers at DTE meeting

While several Wayne residents suffered long-term power outages following the recent heavy rains an inclement weather, Wayne officials have issued an official update regarding the situation.  

“The City of Wayne has been in contact daily with DTE Energy about the unacceptable amount of power outages throughout areas of the city whether there was storm or not. With your help contacting the Michigan Public Service Commission, we are making strides towards getting DTE to make the necessary changes to the infrastructure so that this does not continue to happen,” an official posted on the city administration Facebook page.

According to the posting, city officials met with the DTE regional manager and several DTE Engineers last week and were given specifics regarding the outages. 

The DTE engineers told city officials that Wayne, like most communities, is not on a single circuit and most of the circuits are on the borders of the community and impact other cities as well when the power goes out, engineers explained.

DTE employees identified four poor performing circuits including the Biddle Street Circuit which covers the area of Forest and is directly across the street from the Department of Public Works; the Gilbert Circuit which covers the south end of Wayne and the north end of Romulus; the Peru Circuit, which covers just a small portion on the northern border of the city, but is mainly a Westland circuit, and the Newburgh Circuit which covers the Newburgh area. The Gilbert Circuit has been repaired, according to DTE while the other three circuits are listed as a priority for repair. 

The DTE representative said repairing the circuits requires that power be shut off. They said that the Gilbert Circuit had an overload from an ISO transformer in another community and DTE had to shut down the circuit to make the adjustments so that the circuit could handle the overload. Therefore, the power had to be shut down to perform the repair work, according to DTE officials. 

Representatives of the utility company made it clear that when there are major storms, the repair projects are delayed until the storm damage is repaired and power restored. DTE representatives also said that COVID-19 has had people staying home which results in the use of more electric power. That creates the potential for overloading a circuit, they said, and while “this is not an excuse, but another reason why the circuits are failing, due to overload and need to be replaced with better technology.” 

DTE employees are going to be addressing trees in Wayne that are hanging over the power lines this week and the tree trimming is a priority, officials said. Company representatives also indicated that DTE is spending $70 million on tree trimming throughout the state. 

Wayne officials have requested information with more specifics to share with the public, according to the posting. “We have been very clear that the lack of investment on these circuits is unacceptable and we want them to make sure we remain a priority. The city will continue to have daily contact with DTE,” officials stated. 

According to the posting, residents' contacts to the city regarding power outages have been elevated to the DTE power quality team. 

“You will be contacted back. We do not have all of the technical answers as we are not engineers, but we feel you deserve answers from the experts who can address your concerns better than we can,” the Facebook post states. 

“Please continue to contact the Michigan Public Service Commission about these outages. They have the ability to hold DTE accountable as they are the entity that has oversight over the utilities in the State of Michigan.”

Contact the Michigan Public Service Commission at 800-292-9555 or (517) 284-8100