While many are working from home, that’s not an option for everyone. Keeping our communities powered with electricity and gas requires people on site 24/7. DTE employees are in their second sequestration period since the COVID-19 pandemic begin almost one year ago. These sequestered employees are making big sacrifices – missing holidays and day-to-day life with families as part of DTE’s voluntary sequestration.
“I missed my 10-year-old’s birthday,” said Aida Brown, system supervisor who has worked in the System Operations Center for seven years overseeing the electric grid. “We FaceTimed ‘Happy Birthday.’ I miss them so much. They know Mommy is a part of keeping the lights on.”
Sequestration is an extreme measure necessary to keep essential employees, who are needed on site, safe and healthy.
“It comes to a point where this is your duty,” Aida explains. “This is how you serve your community. It may not necessarily be convenient for our lives, but it is essential to continue to support who we serve, our customers.”
Brown’s sentiments are shared across the enterprise – about 200 DTE employees are in the sequestration rotation.
Sequestration is a proactive measure that DTE took to keep employees safe and ensure that the company can provide reliable service to their customers. These particular employees have very specialized roles and are essential to providing service to homes, businesses and vital customers like hospitals, police and fire.
The sequestered employees work two-week rotations monitoring the delivery of electricity and natural gas to DTE’s 2.5 million customers. They coordinate field activity – sending crews to interruptions and other problems on the energy grid.
The employees are staying at a local hotel where amenities like laundry service and meals are provided.
The company’s Energize Your Life team reaches out daily to keep employees engaged and active during the isolation period. During down time, employees rely on technology to keep in touch with family and for entertainment.
The employees have multiple health screenings a day – when they enter the facilities and again when they enter the hotel where they are staying. The screenings include a series of health questions and temperature checks.
DTE’s executive leadership team is assessing the company’s COVID-19 plan and the virus every day. Right now, there is no definitive date when the 14-day sequestration shifts will come to an end.