DTE Energy is working to improve safety and reliability for more than 400 residents in the Davison and Buffalo Charles neighborhoods of Detroit. Starting this fall, we will upgrade natural gas lines and meters, as well as bury existing overhead electric service lines that deliver power to homes and businesses in the area. 

By combining these construction projects, we’re ensuring the safe and reliable delivery of the natural gas and electric power customers depend on, while minimizing inconvenience and disruption to properties. 

Burying Electric Service Lines 

Burying overhead lines in the Buffalo-Charles and Davison neighborhoods is part of a strategic undergrounding pilot that aims to keep the lights on for customers during extreme weather conditions.  

The work will involve drilling a small trench in front of a home and installing new underground service lines — service lines will run along the side of a home to the existing electric meter. We will then install a junction box that connects to the DTE Underground electric wires and remove the overhead service lines.  

Electric meter (right) connected to a junction box (right) on a home in Detroit.

“Burying power lines is not new to DTE. We’ve been strategically burying service lines, where it makes sense, for more than 50 years because it helps improve reliability and safety by reducing the number of wire downs and power outages during extreme weather,” Errick Bridges, Capital Projects manager, said. 

More than one-third of DTE’s system is currently underground, and customers who have underground services experience more than 30% better reliability than overhead, according to data from 2019 to September 2021. 

Not only will the work increase reliability and safety for customers in these Detroit neighborhoods, but the findings from this study will also help DTE evaluate the lifecycles, costs, resiliency, benefits and challenges of converting existing overhead power lines to underground.  

“Strategically burying sections of our existing overhead infrastructure, where it makes sense, is a part of our plan to improve reliability for our customers — but this will take time,” Bridges said. “Strategic undergrounding projects like this will help us improve reliability and safety across our service territory now and far in the future.” 

Communities selected for strategic undergrounding pilots were chosen based on extensive data and research.  

Natural Gas Upgrades 

Through our Gas Renewal Program, we are upgrading natural gas pipes and meters in communities throughout Michigan to ensure safe, reliable and more environmentally friendly natural gas delivery. This includes replacing miles of cast iron and steel lines with modern plastic pipe and exchanging indoor meters for outdoor smart meters. Moving the meters helps ensure safety and reliability, while improving privacy by nearly eliminating the need for a DTE technician to visit your home.  

Since the program began in 2010, we’ve upgraded more than 1,400 miles of pipeline across the state, and we plan to install more than 250 miles of new main, with 140 of that in Detroit alone, in 2023.  

By the time work is completed statewide in 2035, all legacy natural gas pipes will be upgraded, which will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 500,000 metric tons on an annual basis – the equivalent of permanently taking 100,000 cars off the road.  

Learn more about this program at dteenergy.com/natural-gas-upgrades. 

Gas employees conduct Gas Renewal Program work in a Detroit neighborhood.

Customers in the area will receive updates on the project including power outage details if their home or business is impacted. To learn more about reliability improvement work happening in your area, visit empoweringmichigan.com/reliability-improvements.