DTE: Here's what went wrong after last week's catastrophic storms

Posted at 11:49 AM, Jul 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-26 11:49:38-04

(WXYZ) — DTE Energy had technology and operational issues after two waves of thunderstorms last Friday and Saturday.

The thunderstorms impacted 600,000 DTE customers, with DTE saying it is the second largest event in the company's history. DTE says the storms created unique challenges for its operations and technology departments.

"We experienced multiple issues that we recognize increased our customers' frustrations," the company said in a statement.

Read the full explanation from DTE below:

When the initial storm came through on Friday, we created a restoration plan and issued estimated restoration times to the 120,000 customers initially impacted. These estimates changed when the second wave of storms came through Saturday afternoon and evening, impacting another 480,000 customers. We had to reassess our work plan to include the new outages and determine the additional resources we needed to bring in to assist with restorations. Once we had updates to our estimates, posting and notifying customers of the change took far longer and stressed the internal systems in unanticipated ways. This led to a delay in customers being able to see their updated estimated restoration time. Our Information Technology team found the root cause and was able to implement a permanent fix.

On Sunday, customers may have experienced a change in estimate times, specifically on the outage map, due to a bug that changed the time zone out of Eastern Standard Time and shifted estimates up four hours. This bug was corrected a few hours later.

The user experience on and the DTE Energy Mobile app was far better than it was during the March 2017 storm. We’ve made progress, but we know we still have work to do.

The technologies that we are installing on the energy grid, such as sensors and smart meters, along with new computer systems we are implementing internally, are helping us to better understand the health of the electric system in “real” time. This means we can flag and correct equipment problems and learn about outages before a customer has to call it in. We are in the midst of implementing these best-in-class technologies as part of our five-year $4.2 billion infrastructure upgrade strategy. We also are building a new Electric System Operations Center to create a collaborative work space for our system operators and dispatch teams so that they can more quickly and efficiently respond to outages or potential outages on the energy grid. Opening in fall 2020, it’ll be an integral part of our five-year distribution upgrade and modernization plan, and will deliver the world-class amenities, capabilities and security our customers deserve.