DTE Energy: 5,000 customers remain without power in SE Michigan

Thousands lose power for days after storm

DETROIT - Three days after an April ice storm hit Michigan, about 5,000 customers remain without power, according to DTE Energy.

DTE Energy said it has restored power to 99 percent of the 390,000 customers impacted by Sunday’s ice storm, and only a few thousand remain without power Wednesday night. On Wednesday morning, 25,000 customers were without power

"Our remaining repairs are among the most difficult," reads a statement from DTE. "DTE’s restoration process starts with restoring critical health and safety facilities, like hospitals and police stations, and then moves on to repairs that restore the highest number of people as quickly as possible. At this point in the process, we are tackling the smaller, more complex jobs that will restore power to the pockets of customers still experiencing outages. Crews will continue working around the clock until all impacted customers are restored."

Losing power is one thing, but timing is everything. What made this power outage in April most challenging for customers and restoration crews was the temperature. Temperatures overnight remained below freezing with precipitation for several days, making life that much more difficult for anyone who was left without heat. 

A winter storm hit Metro Detroit on April 15, 2018. (WDIV)

A winter storm hit Metro Detroit on April 15, 2018. (WDIV)

Heavy ice on tree branches appears to be the main culprit of this outage. Branches snapped, falling onto wires and knocking out power to entire neighborhoods. 

As many of us first learned during the 2017 wind storm, burying the lines underground doesn't appear to be in the conversation. Michigan state code states a "real estate developer or customer shall make a contribution in aid of construction to the utility in an amount equal to the estimated difference in cost between overhead and underground facilities."

How to contact DTE

Customers have three ways to contact DTE when they lose power or see a downed power line:

  1. Call 800-477-4747
  2. Visit DTE’s website at dteenergy.com
  3. Access the DTE Energy Mobile App from your smart phone or tablet. The app is available free of charge from the Apple Store or Google Play. Additional information is available through the online Power Outage Map at www.dteenergy.com/outage.

DTE offers these storm power outage tips:   

  • Always operate generators outdoors to avoid dangerous buildup of toxic fumes.   
  • 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.    
  • 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.   
  • Stay out of flooded or damp basements or other areas if water is in contact with outlets or any electrically-operated appliance. The water or moisture may serve as a conductor of electricity. This can cause serious or even fatal injury.   
  • Assemble an emergency kit. It should include a battery-powered radio, a flashlight and candles, extra batteries, a first-aid kit, a fire extinguisher, bottled water and non-perishable food.  
  • Customers who depend on electrically powered medical equipment should ask their physician about an emergency battery back-up system. If a customer is elderly or has a medical condition that would be adversely impacted by a power outage, they should develop an emergency plan that allows for alternative accommodations with family or friends.   
  • 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.    

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