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Ann Arbor council member proposes study into creating nonprofit utility service after many left in dark

Tens of thousands lost power for days following storms

After tens of thousands of people in Michigan lost power for days following storms in early August, an Ann Arbor council member wants to look into creating a community-owned, nonprofit utility service.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – After tens of thousands of people in Michigan lost power for days following storms in early August, an Ann Arbor council member wants to look into creating a community-owned, nonprofit utility service.

Councilmember Elizabeth Nelson said after being inundated with calls from frustrated homeowners and activists she’s put forward a resolution asking City Council to fund a study into sustainable options for electricity.

“We’re in a situation where we are basically begging DTE to act, and begging DTE to provide service we need and I’m interested in trying to figure out how we get out of that situation,” Nelson said.

She put a resolution before city council to fund a feasibility study into the idea of a municipally-run electric service.

“As long as it’s not for publicity it’s a worthwhile idea to pursue,” resident Frank Richardson said.

Richardson lost power for days.

“I went to Kroger. They were out of ice. My son-in-law got dry ice from Washtenaw Dairy. That was useful,” Richardson said.

Nelson said a study into a municipally-run energy provider would cost about $120,000, but could lead to a utility service that can be held accountable.

“We’re sending the message that we have options, we aren’t hostages to DTE,” Nelson said.

DTE Energy released the following statement:

“DTE Energy is partnering with the City of Ann Arbor on several important initiatives designed to help improve electric service reliability, increase clean energy generation and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We have not had a formal dialogue with city leaders on suggested proposals related to municipalization.”

Read: Michigan AG wants input from residents affected by massive August power outages


About the Authors:

Priya joined WDIV-Local 4 in 2013 as a reporter and fill-in anchor. Education: B.A. in Communications/Post Grad in Advanced Journalism

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.