Michigan winters are known for bringing beautiful snow, but Mother Nature can also serve up ice storms. Although ice-covered homes, trees and streetlights add to our signature winter wonderland look, it also can cause electric reliability issues.
Just a half-inch of ice accumulation can add 500 pounds to the span of a power line. That’s the weight of a baby grand piano. Eventually, the added weight causes a power line to break. Additionally, ice coats the lines, making their surface area thicker. The greater surface area catches wind gusts, making the lines even more prone to wind-related damage.
Ice and snow accumulation on trees also cause branches to sag and break, falling onto power lines. The limbs can damage electrical equipment and result in power outages. In some cases, the damage is delayed with limbs snapping and falling long after the weather has passed.
Rest assured, DTE is working to prevent any outages caused by winter weather.
We’re investing more than $1.3 billion annually to strengthen our infrastructure to better withstand severe weather and improve your electric reliability. The multi-year projects will take place across Southeast Michigan and consist of the following:
- Constructing, modernizing and expanding new substations
- Upgrading and replacing utility poles and electrical equipment
- Reconfiguring and relocating power lines
- Investing in new technologies
This work will help prevent service interruptions, improve restoration times and deliver the many benefits of a smart grid to our customers.
Trees growing close to power lines account for two-thirds of the time our customers spend without power. Tree trimming is proven to improve electric reliability for our customers. That’s why we’re investing an additional $90 million toward tree trimming efforts. This year alone, we’ve trimmed more than 5,000 miles of trees along power lines. That’s more than the distance from Detroit to Hawaii.
Inspections and preventative maintenance
We perform inspections and maintenance of our power-generating plants and electrical distribution system every spring and fall. These actions ensure our equipment is in optimal condition and help prepare for extreme winter temperatures.
Why don’t we bury the lines? Wouldn’t that prevent weather-related outages?
It seems like a simple solution, but burying the lines is not a foolproof plan. We have been incorporating more underground cables into the electrical system and exclusively installing underground lines in subdivisions built after 1970. But the cost to relocate the entire existing system underground would be astronomical. An underground system also is not immune to weather-related power outages and has its own set of restoration challenges. For instance, it takes significantly longer to restore power when wires are underground.
What happens if my power goes out?
Our team is constantly monitoring our system to ensure it’s working properly. If you do lose power, our team is on standby to get your power back on as quickly as possible. Additionally, we have a fleet of mobile diesel generators we can connect to the grid to provide power during localized outages.
Report outages immediately at our outage center by calling 800.477.4747 or with the DTE Energy Mobile App.
To learn more about our extreme weather preparedness strategies, visit dteenergy.com/power2you.