Ann Arbor representative among those asking for answers from DTE

Debbie Dingell, Rashida Tlaib, Haley Stevens, Shri Thanedar pen letter to DTE CEO

Debbie Dingell speaks at the Ford School of Public Policy on April 12, 2017 (Credit: Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy / University of Michigan)

ANN ARBOR – After severe ice and snow storms in February, Michigan lawmakers are demanding action from DTE, including Ann Arbor’s Representative Debbie Dingell.

“For more than two weeks I have heard from people across Southeast Michigan who have been forced to face frigid temperatures without power, and are dealing with challenges including frozen pipes, lost food and income, and the financial burden of last-minute hotel reservations,” Dingell said in a release.

“Extended power outages threaten residents living with health conditions that require electricity for treatment such as oxygen support, or accommodations like a stair lift. We need to understand the circumstances that led to this crisis, and ensure we are better prepared for future weather events.”

More than 25,000 homes in Ann Arbor, and nearly 900,000 Michigan households across the state, were without power for several days as DTE crews worked to fix down power lines and broken transformers to restore power.

Dingell joins Michigan Congressional representatives Rashida Tlaib, Haley Stevens, and Shri Thanedar in requesting answers from the Detroit-based company.

In a letter to DTE Chairman and CEO Jerry Norcia, the representatives asked which zip codes experienced outages longer than 96 hours, the number of DTE employees activated in response to the incident, the company’s own assessment of its personnel shortfall and the impacts of this on DTE’s response to the storms.

“Whether a lack of preparedness, inadequate resources, or a failure to act quickly, the response to this crisis by DTE has been deeply troubling. Many of our constituents have struggled with frozen pipes, lost food and income, or the financial burden of last-minute hotel reservations. These delays to restore power also present a serious threat to community members facing health issues that require electricity for treatment, such as oxygen support, endanger farmers’ livestock, and hinder business’ ability to recover after these storms. Though the credit provided to customers was a small step in the right direction, it is wholly insufficient to address the impact these outages have had on our neighbors,” the letter reads.

The cohort of representatives wants to know what steps the company is taking to address both short-and-longer-term impacts of the storms and how it plans to improve the resiliency of the electric grid in anticipation of future events.

DTE has previously offered a $35 to households impacted but lawmakers want to know if additional relief will be offered, and how DTE consumers will be notified of it if eligible.

Additionally, the letter asks if DTE is reconsidering a recently proposed rate increase, and what actions Congress can take to help tackle current vulnerabilities and resiliency in future weather events.

Find the full letter here.

About the Author:

Sarah has worked for WDIV since June 2018. She covers community events, good eats and small businesses in Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in Applied Linguistics from Grand Valley State University.