A combination of aging infrastructure, overgrown trees, curious squirrels and raccoons interfering with equipment and extreme weather events have created some power quality issues for our customers in Livingston County. While we can’t change the weather, we are strengthening our electric infrastructure, adding animal guards and upgrading technology to help reduce the length and number of outages.

“In April, we had a pretty high windstorm out in the area and did not lose power at all – which is shocking in a really good way,” said Jon Emaus, Brighton resident and city council member. “In a storm when we would have normally anticipated losing power – we didn’t have any outages.”

For the past few months in Livingston County, DTE crews have been preparing for storm season. Here are some for the ways our crews have made the electric grid in Brighton more resilient.

Replaced overhead equipment
Replaced damaged equipment called cutout switches throughout area. The cutout holds the fuse and will reduce future outages and flickering lights or voltage fluctuations.

Replaced devices called lightning arresters to protect equipment from the damaging effects of lightning. The arrester diverts the abnormally high voltage to the ground without interrupting power.

Upgraded one transformer to reduce voltage sags to the customers served by the transformer.

Installed smart technology
Installed larger smart grid sensors in multiple locations in the Brighton area. The sensors monitor events that cause minor disturbances on the power grid — things like a tree touching a power line or a small dip in voltage due to a deteriorating piece of equipment. These events don’t typically raise alarms in conventional grid equipment, but smart grid sensors give us precise insight into these disruptions, so we can take quick corrective measures to prevent power outages and deliver more reliable service to our customers.

Installed animal guards
The animal guards make it more difficult for rodents, squirrels and raccoons to climb from the pole onto the electrical system. Animal interference on electrical lines is a common cause of power outages.

Trimmed trees
Trimmed overgrown trees along power lines in the area. Fallen trees and branches are responsible for two-thirds of the time our customers spend without power.

“It is too early to give specifics improvement numbers for Brighton but in other areas where we have completed similar work – the average number of outages and voltage fluctuations were reduced by nearly 50%,” said Brock Nurenberg, manager, who oversees reliability projects on problem circuits.

The majority of the work in Brighton was completed this past spring. The circuit is being closely monitored and maintenance work will be performed as needed.

DTE is in the midst of a multi-year infrastructure upgrade plan to improve electric reliability in communities across Southeast Michigan. In areas where work has been completed, reliability has improved up to 70%. The company will continue investing nearly $1 billion dollars a year to update the electric system that includes more than 47,000 miles of power lines, nearly 4,000 circuits and almost 700 substations.