DTE Energy, the biggest utility in Southeast Michigan, says it’s investing an additional $70 million to address weather-related power outages following large-scale events this summer.
Following multiple mass power outage events in recent months, Michigan leaders, including Attorney General Dana Nessel and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer have called for DTE Energy to invest more in preventive measures, and to offer credits to customers impacted.
DTE announced the additional investment on Wednesday, which will be aimed at removing trees and trimming branches away from power lines. DTE said that trees are responsible for almost all power outage in high-wind events.
More than 800,000 DTE customers lost power after a storm earlier this summer, one of the biggest power outage events in the last five years.
DTE said the investment, which adds to the existing $190 million the utility company spends on tree trimming, will not impact customer bills. The plan was filed with the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC). Here’s what DTE said they are committing to:
- Accelerating tree trimming work for the hardest hit communities
- Providing incremental funds to trim an additional 3,500 miles
- Increasing the tree trimming workforce from 1,200 tree trimmers to 1,500
- Increasing line crews working to make the system more resilient, -- from 850 line workers to 1,050
“We tripled our tree trimming effort and doubled our infrastructure upgrades several years ago when we began to see more severe weather patterns. But the extreme weather we experienced this summer – nine hard hitting, severe storms in nine weeks – is something we have never experienced,” said DTE President and CEO Jerry Norcia. “That’s why we made the decision to invest even more now, directing an additional $70 million into tree trimming to combat the large and recurring outages that have been so challenging for our customers. We will do what it takes to protect Michiganders from power outages caused by catastrophic storms and extreme weather patterns.”