Source: Grosse Pointe News Online

DTE sets public hearing in Woods

by Kathy Ryan

August 30, 2012

GROSSE POINTE WOODS - Officials from DTE Energy will meet with Grosse Pointe Woods residents Wednesday, Sept. 12, to discuss continuing problems with power outages in the city.

The meeting was requested by city officials following an outage in July that left a large segment of the Woods in the dark for several days. At the time, DTE officials told the city the problem was caused by a burned out cable at the DTE transformer at Mack and Anita, which was replaced, but problems developed when attempting to restore power with the power grid tripping and blowing fuses.

According to Woods city administrator Skip Fincham, DTE maintained recurring power outages had been resolved in January when upgrades to what is known as the 1481 Vernier circuit were completed. DTE officials met with the Woods city council earlier this year and assured the city these upgrades would not only reduce the number of outages, but when they did occur, fewer residents would be without power as the result of “sectionalizing” done during the upgrade.

But that did not appear to be the case the first week in July when residents in an area bordered by Mack, Vernier, Lakeshore and Blairmoor were not only without power for three days or more, but were left with few answers from DTE.

That prompted Mayor Robert Novitke to place the outage on the July 16 city council agenda and demand a hearing with representatives of DTE. Several DTE officials attended that council meeting, and while they offered apologies, they didn’t offer much in the way of hard facts as to what DTE was doing to avoid outages like this in the future.

That led Novitke and the council to request a follow up meeting on the problem, which has now been set for 7 p.m. Sept. 12 at the Woods Community Center at the city hall complex on Mack.

“We’re aware of some work in the area by DTE,” Novitke said. “They are doing some underground work north of Vernier and they are also doing some upgrades over near Hidden Lane. We hope to learn the scope of the work on Sept. 12.”

Woods officials are also taking their concerns to the Michigan Public Service Commission, the government body with oversight of utility companies in the state.

Novitke and Fincham will meet on Friday, Sept. 7, in Lansing with representatives of the commission.

“We want to make sure the commission is aware of our concerns, not only about the recurring outages, but also our concerns that DTE has adequate infrastructure to service our residents,” Novitke said. “We believe that one section of Grosse Pointe Woods could be the poster child for poor service by a utility. “

Novitke said he expects DTE to deliver “solid information” to residents at the Sept. 12 meeting.

“This is not intended as a public relations meeting,” he said. “We expect technicians to give facts as to why these outages occur and what exactly DTE is doing to prevent them in the future.”