DETROIT – DTE Energy offered an update Saturday morning on another round of power outages caused by the winter storm and the efforts to restore power to hundreds of thousands of customers.
209,000 without power
As of around 7:30 a.m. Saturday (March 4), about 209,000 DTE Energy customers were without power, according to Trevor Lauer, the president and COO of DTE Electric.
He said 250 trucks are being dispatched to work on restoration.
“We have about 130,000 of those customers on -- we call it ‘crews’ or ‘trucks’ -- this morning to start the restoration process,” Lauer said. “We’ll also have damage assessment teams out in the field, trying to understand the level of damage and how we can get everybody back as quickly as we can.”
Restoration timeline coming in afternoon
Lauer said DTE won’t be able to give customers accurate restoration times until crews have had a chance to assess the damage.
“Restoration timeline -- I will give an update on that this afternoon,” Lauer said. “We need to do the damage assessment and understand exactly what happened.”
Heavy snow and strong winds caused many trees and branches to fall. Lauer said a lot of the trees and branches that didn’t quite fall during last week’s ice storm finally came down Friday night.
“I would imagine a lot of the customers who lost power previously could have lost it again,” Lauer said. “But we’ll have a much better assessment at lunchtime today on that.”
Customers who want to report an outage can do so on the DTE Energy app or over the phone at 800-477-4747. However, the company is already aware of who is without power due to automated meters, Lauer said.
Frustration directed at company, not crews
Lauer said several times that he understands customers are frustrated by the outages.
“I’ve heard from multiple customers who lost power, we got it back two or three days ago, and they’re out of power again,” Lauer said. “We understand how frustrating that is, and it’s not the customer experience that we want for our customers.”
He said crews have been working 16 hours on and eight hours off during restoration efforts over the past 10 days. The company is trying to keep spirits up as workers tire over the long hours.
“What customers can do is support the people out in the field,” Lauer said. “I understand how frustrating it can be, and they have every right to be frustrated right now. But the people in the field trying to do the work are trying to get their lights back on as quickly as they can. So, I understand the frustration directed at me, directed at the company, but not at the people who are out there trying to help you.”
DTE has lost some out-of-state crews that had to return to Ohio, Indiana, and Tennessee. Those states were also hit hard by the storm, Lauer said.
Lauer said the highest winds were within a band that cut just to the southeast of the DTE Energy service territory.
“I’ll have a better sense of all that this afternoon as we dig into the restoration,” Lauer said.
Engineers are poring over the storm data to figure out which locations should have dispatch priority and how the company can restore power to everyone as quickly as possible, according to Lauer.
You can watch the full interview with Lauer below.