Thousands of utility poles being replaced by DTE to guard against summer storms

Last summer’s severe storms left thousands of homeowners underwater, in the dark - or both.  Now, about 12 months later, the images are fresh in the minds of DTE Energy crews.

"We’ve really seen an increase in the significant weather events we’ve seen come through our area," said Ryan Stowe, DTE. "Here last year, just in Oakland County, there were 26 severe thunderstorm warnings."

And that’s just in one county of the power company’s service area.  

Stowe is vice president of DTE’s distribution operations.  The company’s improvement plan includes a $90 million investment in trimming 5,000 trees and upgrades to 4,000 utility poles.

FOX 2: "We see guys up in the bucket here. Walk us through what we're seeing."

"Crews are replacing what we would call a secondary pole," Stowe said. "This pole ends up with the services to each of these houses here.

"We’ve certainly put a focused effort on improving reliability in the grid, particularly, on these areas that were hit hard, I fully expect they’re going to have a much better summer than last year."

DTE says these efforts should reduce outages by at least 60 percent.  All of which makes life on the lake easier for people like Myrna Kennedy — who’s lived in Commerce Township for more than 30 years.

FOX 2: "What happens when the power goes out here?"

"The transformer blows. In one year we had nine power outages," Kennedy said.

FOX 2: "DTE says they’re getting ahead of the summer season, trying to make it better for you. When you see a crew working out here, how do you feel?"

"Great, they need to get the job done," she said.

Another big issue was the power outages at pumping stations which contributed to last summer’s flooding.  DTE says it’s converted power at the pumping stations from Great Lakes Water Authority to the DTE system.