DETROIT - DTE Energy has restored power to more than 99 percent, or approximately 148,700 of the 150,000 customers impacted by the ice storm that hit Southeast Michigan last weekend. About 1,300 of these customers remain without service. Work has been hampered by melting ice causing additional damage – in some cases to lines that had previously been repaired.
Also, this week's continued harsh weather conditions knocked out power to an additional 60,000 customers and about 4,200 of these customers remain out of service.
Most of the remaining power outages are in Lapeer County, and DTE has crews working on circuits that serve all of the customers still out from the weekend storm. Extensive damage to the power lines, coupled with icy and frigid working conditions, has made it difficult to provide accurate restoration estimates for completing the work. DTE Energy expects the last of its customers to be restored this weekend.
It is important that customers notify DTE if they are still without power. Due to the extensive damage caused by ice and the additional outages all week, DTE wants to make sure every customer out of service is assigned a crew and restored as soon as possible.
DTE knows that some customers are frustrated, especially during the holiday season. DTE Energy shares that frustration.
The frigid temperatures, snow and higher velocity winds that made restoration work more challenging for most of the week gave way to slightly above-freezing temperatures yesterday. While this helped crews in the field yesterday and likely today, the melting ice is presenting its own challenges.
Ice storms differ from thunderstorms because the damage from ice often continues for several days. A quarter of an inch of ice is the equivalent of 500 pounds of weight on a span of power line. In some areas, as much as three-quarters of an inch has been found on DTE Energy power lines. When the ice begins to melt, branches and power lines spring back into place sometimes causing more outages.
More than 1,500 DTE employees, contractors and linemen from other utilities remain in the field today, working around the clock, to rebuild portions of the electric system section by section. Damage is extensive and customers may see portions of their neighborhoods restored, rather than entire neighborhoods restored all at once, as work is completed.
More than 500 linemen from utilities in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Indiana, Illinois and Ohio are assisting with restoration efforts. In addition, more than 400 tree trimmers are helping to clear power lines of fallen tree branches.
DTE Energy reminds customers that they should always operate generators outdoors to avoid dangerous buildup of toxic fumes. If they use their vehicles to get warm, make sure the vehicle is outside the garage or that the garage door is open so fumes can dissipate.
Safety is always the top priority. DTE would like to remind customers to stay at least 20 feet away from downed power lines and anything they're in contact with, such as metal fences and cars. Treat every downed power line as if it were energized.
Customers can report an outage, check on the status of an outage, and view our outage map, all from their smart phones. Customers also may call DTE Energy at (800) 477-4747 to report power outages or downed lines. We encourage customers to use our mobile website at dteenergy.com or their iPhone or Android phone to report a power problem using the DTE Energy Outage Center app. The app is available free of charge from the Apple Store or Google Play.
Additional information on the storm – including our online Power Outage Map – is available at www.dteenergy.com/outage.
DTE Energy understands how difficult it is to be without power, and appreciates the patience of customers as we work on the repair process.
Coping with a power outage:
- Never drive across a downed power line. If a power line falls on your vehicle, remain inside until help arrives.
- Turn on faucets slightly to provide a constant drip and prevent pipes from freezing.
- Turn off or unplug all appliances to prevent an electrical overload when power is restored. Leave on one light switch to indicate when power is restored.
- If a customer is elderly or has a medical condition that would be adversely impacted by a power outage, they should try to make alternative accommodations with family or friends.
- During low-voltage conditions – when lights are dim and television pictures are smaller – shut off motor-driven appliances such as refrigerators to prevent overheating and possible damage. Sensitive electronic devices also should be unplugged.
- Keep a corded or cell phone on hand because a cordless telephone needs electricity to operate. Also, customers should learn how to manually open automated garage doors.
- Customers who depend on a well for drinking water need to plan ahead on how they will obtain water. Store containers of water for cooking and washing.
- Keep an emergency supply of fuel or wood handy. For safety, always store fuel in a dry place away from the house.
- Select a small, well-insulated room with a fireplace, wood stove or fuel-burning heater to use as emergency living quarters.
- Ensure your blanket supply is adequate for extended outages and secure a supply of cardboard. In an emergency, blankets and cardboard can be hung over windows and doorways to minimize heat loss.
- Don't open refrigerators or freezers more often than absolutely necessary. A closed refrigerator will stay cold for 12 hours. Kept closed, a well-filled freezer will preserve food for two days.
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