GROSSE POINTE WOODS - Determined that complaints about recurring power outages stay not just at the local level, Grosse Pointe Woods officials voiced their concerns directly to the Michigan Public Service Commission, the state agency charged with overseeing local utility providers.
Mayor Robert Novitke and city administrator Skip Fincham traveled to Lansing Friday, Sept. 7, where they met with several members of the
MPSC, including Don Mazuchowski, Electrical Operations manager.
At issue were the recurring power outages affecting a large segment of Grosse Pointe Woods, bounded roughly by Vernier, Brys, Mack and Lakeshore, and the fact that even though DTE had assured residents and city administration the problems had been resolved, power outages continued.
"To be honest, I did not have very high expectations going in to this meeting," Novitke said. "But I was very pleased at how responsive the commission members were. They had thoroughly reviewed the data Mr. Fincham had sent them and had met with DTE to discuss our problem."
As a result, DTE has initiated a specific project to correct the recurring problems. It involves splitting the circuit that serves the affected area, which will reduce the number of customers being fed by the current single circuit. This circuit, identified as the DC 1481 Vernier circuit, has been blamed for outages dating back several years. The project will cost $400,000 and is expected to be completed by the summer of 2013.
The meeting came just ahead of a town hall meeting DTE has scheduled with Woods residents for Wednesday, Sept. 12. Woods officials called the meeting in response to outages this past summer, including the latest one on Aug. 29. At that time, DTE was removing dead trees in the 1700 block of Hampton when a branch broke off and brought down a power line. Attempts by DTE to restore power were delayed because of a malfunctioning relay circuit within the DC 1481 Vernier circuit.
According to Fincham, because of this most recent outage, DTE Energy has "begun an analysis over and above the industry standard to identify any potential issues that would affect reliability in the greater Grosse Pointe community."
Fincham added that the preliminary analysis will be presented by DTE at the Sept. 12 meeting.
Novitke said the meeting with the MPSC lasted about three hours.
"They were attentive to our issues and took the meeting very seriously," Novitke said. "They listened, they took notes, and we have already seen some of their recommendations."
Novitke urged residents to take concerns about DTE Energy service directly to the MPSC.
"We were told by the commission members that they had never received any complaints from residents regarding the recurring outages until this year when we urged residents to take their complaints directly to Lansing.
"This year there were 27 complaints, and it's obvious the commission listened."
Novitke also said that members of the MSPC will be attending the Sept. 12 meeting with DTE.
Accompanying Novitke and Fincham to the meeting was Grosse Pointe Farms City Manager Shane Reeside, and while the MPSC was familiar with similar issues in the Farms, they did not discuss those problems at this meeting.