“I’m a very lucky man, but I worked hard, too,” said Nirmal Singh, engineer – principal specialist, Distribution Operations.
For nearly 44 years, Nirmal has dedicated his time to ensuring that DTE customers and others across the world have reliable electricity. He has travelled nearly two million miles on behalf of DTE evaluating high voltage oil-paper cables in 10 countries, particularly France, and almost every state.
“Anywhere that there is such a cable in this nation, I have worked on it at some point,” said Nirmal.
But his journey to DTE was not exactly straight.
In 1969, the Indian native came from the United Kingdom to the United States, landing at GE for nine years before moving to DTE. He joined the company for the opportunity to work in the research department, which had the oldest utility lab in the county.
“Edison had positions in the lab unlike any other utilities at the time,” said Nirmal.
Two years after joining DTE, Nirmal earned the opportunity to become an Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) advisor on behalf of our company.
In his new role, he began writing and proposing contracts to offer condition and life assessments of cables/transformers to utilities around the world.
“I was confident that if we could get a major contract with EPRI, I would be able to deliver,” said Nirmal.
And he’s been doing just that for almost 40 years, with over 100 publications that draw clients to DTE, at the same time enhancing in-house skills to serve the company.
“Starting from 1982 to the present, there was always something for me to do or somewhere to go on behalf of EPRI, or DTE,” said Nirmal.
Big utilities like Con Edison, Exelon, and Southern California Edison pay DTE for Nirmal’s consulting services when they have a challenge or special needs. He has been to Con Ed about 45 times since 1986. Smaller utilities like Hawaiian Electric contracts Nirmal more often because they do not have the people or the expertise to work on cables.
“I’ve been to Hawaii for work seven times – I had a contract with Hawaii last year but I could not go because of the pandemic,” said Nirmal. “Mind you, I’m 85 years old. With a doctor son and a daughter with Ph.D. in epidemiology working at the CDC, they won’t let me travel.”
Since being grounded, Nirmal has had time to focus on other things like writing for other utilities. He’s currently working on a project for Boston Edison and mentioned he has some work with EPRI that has been delayed as he can’t go to the lab to work on it.
Nirmal has spent the majority of his DTE career working inside of a lab, supporting the company and industry with its developments, split equally between Distribution Operations and Fossil Generation, where the EPRI work started and the start of several significant publications. Most recently, he worked inside of the new Distribution Operations lab inside of Warren Service Center.
Of course, the question that many have been asking including his family – When will Nirmal retire?
“My wife has been on me about retiring, but not EPRI and other clients,” Nirmal said. “You know, I’m 85 years old – I won’t be here forever.”
Nirmal has not shared a timeframe for retirement, but says it is coming.