DTE: 14K remain without power in 6th day of storm-related outages

DTE Energy reported  around 14,000 customers without power Tuesday night, as the stretch of mass power outages that began Friday night continued a  fifth day.

DTE senior strategist Kyle Kantola helps Venida and Oliver Hickombottom with the question of when they will have their power restored to their Detroit home.  Besides giving information, DTE employees listen to customers so they can better assign crews to help the most people during these outages. DTE set  up a mobile command center at Kroger in Royal Oak to help customers who have lost power by giving them water and ice as well as information on when they will get their power back on.

Crews are wrapping restoring electricity after severe storms over two days knocked out power to more than 800,000 Michigan homes and businesses. The utility says most remaining outages involve severe damage and some are in areas that aren’t easily accessible.

DTE expects power to be fully restored by the end of Wednesday. Roughly 600,000 customers were in the dark at the peak. Customers who’ve been without power for 120 hours or longer may be eligible for a $25 reliability credit

At a press conference Monday at headquarters in downtown Detroit, Heather Rivard, senior vice president of electric distribution for DTE, called the mass outages "unacceptable." 

DTE had two community vans, one in Oakland County and one in Wayne County, distributing water and ice at the Costco in Madison Heights, and the Kroger at John Daly and Ford Road in Dearborn Heights.

Jackson-based Consumers Energy’s outage map showed only a few outages Wednesday. The number affected was as high as 220,000 due to the storms.

Those who have been without power for 120 hours or more "may" be eligible for a $25 reliability credit, DTE said. Those claims can be made through its website. Consumers Energy customers can do the same.

On Monday, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel reminded Michiganians to take advantage of the credit if they qualify.

"The weekend storms in some parts of Michigan have left hundreds of thousands of electric customers with extended interruptions in services and it’s important we remind them that they may be entitled to a credit as a result of those interruptions,” Nessel said in a statement. 

“And while we appreciate the utility companies for their around-the-clock work to restore power to their customers, it’s important we continue working together to ensure better reliability for our residents."

Kevin Waskelis with DTE public affairs helps Sharon Hughes of Detroit with some phone and tablet charges at the DTE mobile command center in the Kroger parking lot in Royal Oak. Sharon Hughes of Detroit has been out of power since returning Sunday from her cottage in Canada, perhaps earlier.  "I've been going everyday to the gas station to get ice so when I heard about this, I said that's a good deal, I pay my bill on time, I deserve it."  Besides getting her phone charged she picked up ice and water as well.

When Venida and Oliver Hickombottom returned to their Detroit home Sunday afternoon after visiting their daughter in Southfield, they found the power was out.

Hickombottom, his wife, and their two large dogs spent time in the basement of their home to stay cool. Their son-in-law brought over plates of hot food, and he and his wife bought dry ice to keep their refrigerator cold. The couple had enough lanterns for themselves and for their neighbors. 

"We dealt with it and came out pretty good," Hickombottom said. "It didn't frustrate us too much."

Hickombottom said their power came back on Tuesday morning.

"We were under the impression that they wouldn't get power back until tomorrow or Thursday," he said. "I was shocked they got it back so soon."

Hickombottom said he appreciated getting their power back earlier than expected, as well as the water, ice and information DTE provided at a command center set up outside the Kroger store on 12 Mile in Royal Oak.

"I understand the risk they take when they're out there repairing and dealing with the live lines," Hickombottom said. "They have to make somebody else uncomfortable to bring back the whole system."

Associated Press contributed