Customers expect fewer power outages as DTE continues upgrades to grid

Believe it or not, DTE hears your concerns over power outages. On Friday, their remedies to those problems were on full display.

"(We're) putting in our bigger, stronger poles, we're replacing the cross arms with we're putting up fiberglass cross arms instead of wood," said George Mundorf, DTE's northeast regional director. "These fiberglass ones last longer."

One of the largest utilities in the state, their electrical grid spans the breadth of southeast Michigan that includes millions of people. These cross arm poles and the wiring those structures hold up are the backbone of the region's electrical system. So naturally, that infrastructure takes precedent when improvements are needed. 

Except, many of them are old - really old.

"Some of our older poles that I'm aware of, they've been up since the 1940s and 50s and that's why we need to invest in this aging infrastructure," Mundorf said. "We have 7,600 square mile service territory and we're always working on improving the system."

A few miles away, construction crews were cutting away trees from the wiring. With all these upgrades in place, DTE officials believe these fixes will dramatically reduce the number of outages.

"About 60 percent of the time a customer is without power it's due to trees, so that tree trimming is a big part of this program," said Mundorf.

DTE's tree trimming program also employs people who have been released from incarceration. Studies show that programs that help ex-convicts get employed reduce the recidivism rate of those individuals.