As part of our plan to build the grid of the future, we’re transitioning to a smart grid. Through 2028, we plan to fully automate our grid by installing 10,000 smart devices, called reclosers. Positioned on top of power poles, reclosers will help us quickly pinpoint outages and automatically restore power to a portion of our customers while crews make repairs. 

Reclosers will help improve safety and reliability, especially during extreme weather. In fact, these devices are expected to reduce the length of outages by up to 50%. 

Here’s how they work 

Reclosers are like switches that control power to your home. When something interferes with the power system, like when our equipment is hit by lighting or a tree falls on our lines, the recloser quickly turns off the electricity in the area to isolate the outage and help keep people safe (remember to stay at least 25 feet away from a downed wire and always treat it as if it is energized). If the equipment is working properly, the recloser will sense that and turn the power back on. If there is an issue, the recloser will isolate the outage to the area of damage. That way, we can quickly and remotely restore power to many customers served by that circuit. This can happen in seconds to minutes.  

Installation process 
  • Three to four weeks before the installation starts, a new utility pole may be delivered to the general location.  
  • A few weeks before the recloser is installed, tree trimming may occur.  
  • Before installation, door hangers are hung to notify our customers on the street where the recloser will be installed.  
  • A new pole may be installed within the right of way to support the new recloser.  
  • Crews will install the recloser on a utility pole.   
  • Additional work on existing electrical equipment within the vicinity to support the new recloser may take place during this time.  
  • The installation process typically takes three to five days.  
  • Within three weeks of installation, crews will arrive to test and activate devices.  
Our progress 

Our crews have been hard at work installing reclosers across our service area. We installed 210 reclosers in 2023, plan to install another 280 in 2024 and will continue to significantly ramp up our efforts through 2028. 

The work is not expected to cause any service interruptions. We will continue to notify customers via email, Nextdoor and door hangers in areas where reclosers are being installed.  

Transitioning to a smart grid is just one part of our work to build the grid of the future. We’re also upgrading existing infrastructure, rebuilding significant portions of the grid and trimming trees. Read more about this work at empoweringmichigan.com/reliability-improvements.