The technical term for the device is a cutout. Essentially, it’s a fuse and switch combined into one. It’s a critical piece of equipment, as cutouts protect transformers from power surges and overloads. Over the last several years, these valuable little devices have been getting a facelift.

Cutouts before installed to a transformer.

DID YOU KNOW: The utility pole near you likely has 1-2 cutouts. They’re found above the big, grey cans that are called transformers. The number of cutouts used is dependent on the voltage needed from that pole. 

Seen from ground level, a cutout is a small, grey object high up on the pole and shaped like a rubber plungerBut these modest little devices are very important to the reliability of both our overhead and underground system.  

“We’ve been working on upgrading cutouts everywhere for a while,” said Sean, a supervisor at one of DTE’s service centers. “For years they were made of porcelain, but as technology has advanced, we now try to update as many as we can to poly.” 

Poly is short for polymer—a synthetic, rubber-like substance known for its durability. Over time, cutouts made of porcelain may crack and lead to outages. 

“All new construction gets poly,” said Steve, a DTE service center supervisor. “As we’re able, we send crews out to change as many cutouts to poly as possible.” 

Updating cutouts where possible is another way that DTE is working tirelessly to improve the reliability of your power to help ensure it’s there when you need it. 

You may see more of our crews in the coming months as part of our accelerated electric reliability projects in your area, including more tree trimming and infrastructure updates. All these projects are underway to improve your service and reliability for the short- and long term. 

Make sure to regularly check the Thumb Area community page to learn more about what’s going on in your neighborhood. You can also follow DTE on Facebook and Twitter for even more updates and information.