Get Caught Up: Nearly a million Michigan households lose power -- Why does this keep happening?

Michigan had an estimated 864,000 households without power

Why does Michigan's power grid keep failing

DETROIT – Nearly one million Michigan households were without power Thursday after severe storms blew through the Midwest.

Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois all saw outages, but Michigan seems to have been hit the hardest, having more than 10 times the outages than the other states.

Update: Around 168K DTE Energy customers still without power in Metro Detroit

Get Caught Up” is ClickOnDetroit’s Saturday news review to help readers catch up on the biggest stories of the week.

At its peak in Wisconsin, the state had 63,000 customers without power. Illinois and Indiana peaked at about 30,000 each. Ohio peaked at 62,000. Michigan, however, peaked at 864,000 customers without power on as temperatures soar on one of the hottest days of the year.

Why does this keep happening?

“It’s important to know that Consumers Energy really is committed to building a strong energy grid,” said Brian Wheeler, with CE.

Michigan’s power companies were given huge raises in rates in 2020. DTE Energy was approved for $188 million and CE was approved for $100 million. The money was supposed to be used on improvements. Even the federal government got involved, which sent more than $51 million to Michigan to shore up infrastructure against climate change.

“We need to change the regulations in the direction of what’s called performance-based regulations,” said energy consultant Matt Bandyk. “Where instead of it being about how much capital can the utility invest, it’s about how well can you perform and service your customers, how well can you provide reliable, affordable electric service.”

Both DTE and CE said they’ve invested a lot of money in trimming trees and upgrading utility poles so they can sustain higher winds.

Why aren’t Michigan power lines underground?

DTE Energy says they have been burying lines when possible with new subdivisions -- but at the expense of developers and without impact to existing power infrastructure.

Michigan Administrative Code 460.511 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.”

DTE also says underground lines require more maintenance, because lines are hidden from view - making problems harder to diagnose, and potentially taking longer to fix. Read more from DTE here.

Michigan is one of the worst states for power outages in the United States.

Read more here.

About the Authors:

Grant comes to Local 4 from Oklahoma City. He joins the news team as co-anchor of Local 4 News Today weekend mornings and is a general assignment reporter.

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.