When nasty weather causes power outages, DTE Energy crews are well-prepared to respond quickly and safely to get the lights back on for its customers. But on March 8, 2017, the severity of the damage and the magnitude of the impact was beyond anything ever before seen at DTE. For the company’s outstanding power restoration efforts following the historic windstorm, the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) presented DTE Energy with the association’s “Emergency Recovery Award” this week.
The award is presented to recognize energy companies’ extraordinary efforts to restore power to customers after service disruptions caused by severe weather conditions or other natural events. The winners were chosen by a panel of judges following an international nomination process, and the awards were presented during EEI’s Winter Board and Chief Executives Meeting in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Jan. 10. EEI is the association that represents all U.S. investor-owned electric companies.
“The tireless work by DTE Energy crews during the severe windstorm in March exemplifies our industry’s commitment to customer service,” said EEI President Tom Kuhn. “DTE Energy’s crews worked diligently to safely restore service to customers, and are very deserving of this award.”
Few could forget how the sustained high winds battered Southeast Michigan. The tropical-force winds snapped utility poles and toppled trees into DTE’s power lines, causing extensive damage to the electrical system and leading to nearly 800,000 customers losing power. For 12 hours, the region was hit with winds topping 40 mph. During the height of the windstorm, DTE’s internal systems indicated more than 1,000 customers were losing power per minute.
As soon as DTE’s meteorologists recognized a strong storm was heading Michigan’s way, the energy company began mobilizing resources to prepare for potential outages. When it became clear that the damage would surpass the worst-case scenario previously estimated, DTE moved with a great sense of urgency to respond. DTE’s No. 1 priority was to ensure the safety of the public, and even as the weather continued to cause problems on the electrical system, DTE mobilized crews to begin securing and de-energizing downed wires. Crews from DTE restored service to more than 90 percent of customers in four days, dedicating 660,000 man-hours to restoration efforts. Energy companies from seven other states sent crews to Michigan to help with the efforts as well.
“While we faced many obstacles during this catastrophic event, our employees made me extremely proud because they responded to the challenge with tireless energy,” said Gerry Anderson, DTE Energy chairman and CEO. “We know the outages caused by the storm created hardship for many of our customers, and that is why our employees worked around the clock until the last customer was restored. Thank you to EEI for recognizing this historic effort.”