DTE: Power outages 'unacceptable' days after storms

Scott Golen of Dearborn looks at what's left Sunday of the tree that fell on his house, causing minor damage, on North Melborn near Sheridan.

Detroit — The bad weather is gone. The bad tidings remain.

Tempers grew short Monday as some Metro Detroit residents experienced their fourth day without power.

“I’m ready for it to end,” said Kathy Cook of Westland. “Will it? Who knows?”

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In Michigan 820,000 homes and businesses lost power after a battery of storms that began Friday.

By Monday night,  16,221 customers of Consumers Energy and 200,000 at DTE Energy still lacked electricity, said the utilities.

That was down from highs of 600,000 at DTE and 220,000 at Consumers when the storms hit.

Consumers Energy said most of the affected customers should have their power back by Tuesday night while DTE Energy said the electricity should be fully restored by Wednesday night.

The storms had one silver lining. They pushed out a heat spell and ushered in much more bearable weather.

After Saturday tied a 1977 record for 97 degrees, the high temperature Monday was 77 degrees, said the National Weather Service. Temperatures should remain under 83 until Thursday, when it will peak at 87.

Besides making the outages a tad more tolerable, the tranquil weather helped the utilities try to restore the power, they said.

Utility crews have been able to work 16-hour shifts through the night, said Guy Packard, vice president of electric operations for Consumers Energy.

“We’ve been able to make exceptional gains,” he said.

The utility is using 1,700 workers and contractors, along with line workers from six states, he said.

As for DTE Energy, it has deployed 1,150 workers and contractors, and another 750 workers from as far away as New York and Georgia.

During a press conference Monday, DTE Energy said it understands the frustration of some customers. It agrees with them.

“This is unacceptable,” said Heather Rivard, DTE’s senior vice president of electric distribution.

Two-thirds of power outages involve wires damaged by trees, said Rivard.

Utility linemen are working with tree-trimmers in some areas, she said. The utility has repaired nearly half of the 2,000 wires reported by customers.

The storms that struck through the weekend packed wind gusts in excess of 70 miles per hour, said the weather service.

Among those struck by the power outages are Detroit Fire Department stations.

Nine of the city’s 34 stations had lost power during the weekend, said Dave Fornell, deputy fire commissioner. Three remained without power at different times Monday.

Generators were brought in to help the firefighters, he said. All stations are open for service.


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