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Attorney General in Novi for 'Listening Tour' on power outages

Posted at 11:19 PM, Sep 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-20 23:19:07-04

NOVI, Mich. (WXYZ) — In response to a summer filled with power outages, Attorney General Dana Nessel was in Novi Monday for stop one of a “listening tour” about the issue.

Last month, the Attorney General’s office launched an online feedback form to hear from people impacted by power outages this summer, and the majority of the more than 4,000 responses came from Wayne and Oakland counties.

Time and time again, downed lines and massive power outages hit metro Detroit. At one point in August, nearly 1 million DTE customers were without power.

Some of them showed up in Novi to voice their displeasure to Nessel.

The owners of 27th Letter Books, a bookstore in southwest Detroit, came to the meeting. Their business saw lots of flooding after power outages knocked out their sump pump. The built-up humidity curled the pages of their books, ruining inventory and costing nearly $8,000 in damages. They also spent numerous days closed with no power.

“Everybody shares this feeling of, 'hey, when is the power going to go out again? We know it’s only getting worse,” said owner Andrew Pineda.

In fact, Michigan sees more power outages than many other states, ranking 4th worst for average annual power interruptions according to the US Energy Information Administration.

“Anytime it rains we’re just kind of on edge," Pineda said. "Like, is this going to happen again to us?”

Pineda and his wife expressed their concerns to Nessel as part of public comment.

“We really want to get people's input on it," Nessel said. "We want to know how this is affecting people throughout our state.”

Nessel says there are many issues, including with credits. DTE normally offers a $25 credit during power outages. Consumers Energy also offers credits in the wake of power outages. However, Nessel says there should be more assistance and credits should be automatic.

“25 dollars? 25 dollars for over 120 hours of lost power? That’s nothing. That's nothing for a family or even a single individual for what their hardships are,” Nessel said.

Other officials across the aisle also say action needs to be taken, vowing to make changes.

“This is not just a storm-related issue, this is a systemic issue here with the utilities in the state of Michigan," said State Senator Jim Runestad, who was at the meeting. "We’ve got to get our arms around the problem and get it fixed.”

In response to the event, a DTE spokesperson said “We share the Attorney General's concern for our customers. That's why we announced a $70 million investment in tree trimming to reduce outages and are investing $1 billion annually to make our electric system more resistant to increasingly severe weather patterns like we experienced this summer. We are also increasing the number of our tree trim teams by nearly 30% and overhead line teams by 20% to help us accelerate our efforts to create more resilient infrastructure.”

However, those still reeling from the last outage want more to be done, hoping that when the next storm rolls through their lives won’t be uprooted.

“It's just going to get worse. It’s going to continue," Pineda said. "What's going on to help not only small businesses but residents as well?”

According to the Attorney General, this is one of many stops where she plans to hear from the public on this issue. More in metro Detroit are set to be announced soon.