October 17, 2013Grosse Pointe Woods — DTE Energy representatives met with residents Monday night, and while the utility reps brought charts, statistics and maps, they brought few answers to residents plagued by power outages.
In what has become an annual event, engineers and officials from DTE told residents work is progressing on several circuits in the Woods aimed at improving service.
"DTE is committing nearly $4 million to improving service," Kathy Jordan, a DTE regional manager for corporate and government affairs said. "We're spending $800,000 for line clearance, $250,000 for line maintenance and nearly $3 million for line upgrades."
But while that seems impressive on paper, many residents told Jordan they have yet to see any work being done on lines and equipment near their houses, and, more importantly, they have not seen any improvement in service.
"You told us this work would be completed by now, and it has barely begun," one resident told the DTE reps. "What is taking so long? We're not convinced anything has been fixed."
One resident complained of a two-hour outage that had occurred on his street Monday afternoon, which a DTE engineer said was caused by the failure of a piece of hardware.
One area of the Woods, known by DTE as Sector 1481, has been repeatedly hit with power outages, oftentimes lasting several days.
Woods resident Dan Curis, owner of the Big Boy restaurant at Mack and Vernier, told the DTE reps residents had a right to be upset.
"I am forced to pay more insurance for no other reason than DTE," he said. "All we want are answers, but we're getting the same answers we got a year ago."
In July 2011 residents met with DTE representatives, and a year later, July 2012, they met with them again. At both meetings, residents were assured the problems would be fixed.
One area of great concern to many residents was the continuing situation of low voltage being delivered to their homes. Many have had to replace or repair appliances that were damaged or destroyed due to not using the proper amount of voltage. Several have used voltage meters to measure the amount of electricity being delivered to their houses, and some have registered as low as 88 to what should be a 120-watt line.
And when one resident asked if DTE could provide voltage meters the company itself could monitor, an engineer said the company only has 10 such meters for the entire service area.
Councilwoman Vicki Granger told residents voltage meters were available through the Grosse Pointe Public Library.
Several residents left the meeting before it was over, expressing frustration with the lack of answers from the DTE representatives.
Jordan did assure residents she would be in touch with a representative from the DTE claims department to discuss residents' concerns over how their inquiries could be handled, and will provide any additional information to city administrator Skip Fincham for distribution to residents.
Following the meeting, Mayor Robert Novitke said the city would follow up with DTE to make certain any plans put forth by DTE are completed.
"I would hope we would not have to go back before the Michigan Public Service Commission, but we will," he said. "They have made some improvements, but obviously not enough."