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DTE holds open house in Farmington Hills to address power outages

Posted at 11:18 PM, Sep 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-28 23:18:29-04

FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. (WXYZ) — Tuesday in Farmington Hills, DTE met with residents face-to-face to explain the recent outages and what they’re doing to fix the issue.

DTE brought out a handful of experts from arborists to engineers, to explain to residents why there’s been an increase in outages and what the company is doing now to prevent them going forward.

"For us, it's just been unacceptable," said Farmington Hills resident Eric Bell. "We're in the summertime now but our concern is in the wintertime. We don't want this to continue.”

The hum of generators has been the soundtrack of the summer in some Farmington Hills neighborhoods, with more than a handful of power outages lasting from a few hours to a few days.

“Every time it rains the wind comes up, the trees start to whip around and next thing you know the powers out,” said resident Peter Kalakailo.

Residents angered over the outages showed up at Heritage Park in Farmington, where DTE set up stations with poster boards explaining their solutions going forward.

“The fact that we have to have this event today to me is indicative of a failure on their part to deliver on their part of the contract, which is to give us reliable consistent service," said Bell.

Farmington Hills' Mayor says the city worked with DTE to set up the meeting, giving their residents a chance to voice concerns face to face.

"It's no secret that we're angry," said Mayor Vicki Barnett. "I can only do so much when I sit down with the DTE higher-ups and explain what type of emails I'm getting, but for them to face the residents directly... their (residents) outrage has been rather outstanding.”

The Mayor says DTE has failed to do enough maintenance to prevent these outages, and the company admits they’ve fallen short.

“The evidence is in the number of outages we’ve seen this year from trees, so clearly we can do more,” said Ryan Stowe, VP of Distribution Operations at DTE.

According to DTE, 85% of the outages in Farmington Hills were from fallen trees. The company is now committing $70 million and adding hundreds of employees to keep trees trimmed.

“Our goal is to have significant improvements before the end of the year and hopefully a lot earlier than that, but it’s a process that’s really ongoing,” Stowe said.

In the meantime, residents and city officials say they’ll be taking additional action to make sure those commitments are being met.

“We are going to be pursuing a formal complaint with the MPSC (Michigan Public Service Commission) on behalf of the City and other residents and business owners in our community, and we hope that will spur them to action,” said Mayor Barnett.

DTE also wanted to make clear that these additional investments will not result in increased rates.