In the early days of December 2014, parts of downtown Detroit went dark. Courthouses, federal buildings, schools and major institutions were temporarily forced to suspend operations after a faulty cable – part of the city power grid – failed.

A few city-operated buildings were able to continue business as usual, as they were not impacted by the outages. Those buildings were being fed from the DTE electric grid, some as a result of being transferred through a partnership between DTE Energy and the city’s Public Lighting Department.

Since the start of the partnership in 2014, DTE has worked tirelessly to transition close to 400 metered sites and over 700 traffic signals formerly powered by PLD to DTE’s electric distribution system.

“At the onset, schools and traffic lights were the main priority,” said Ryan Chutorash, Operations Manager at DTE. “Then we moved into city buildings and commercial sites. It was really important that we install new electrical feeds with new and modern equipment to improve reliability.”

Since July 2014, DTE has converted 120 Detroit schools from PLD to its power grid and performed targeted electrical maintenance on the existing PLD system prior to their conversion.  As a result, Detroit schools experienced a 99 percent reduction in the number of school closings caused by electrical failures.

DTE is working to convert major Detroit landmarks to the upgraded system including Wayne State University, the DIA, Wayne County Jail, Cobo Hall, and Belle Isle where there is currently no DTE infrastructure.

“Over the next five years, we plan to replace almost every cross arm in the city, which is about 100,000 poles,” said Chutorash. “We will replace the poles, transformers, and secondary wires in order to improve reliability.”

In partnership with the city, DTE is cleaning up residential areas and alleyways, trimming trees, and working to harden the electrical system overall to contribute to Detroit’s revitalization. Read more on how DTE is working to create a smarter energy grid throughout Southeast Michigan.

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