Response to storm outages routine, DTE says

Ian Thibodeau

DTE Energy’s service response after storms Thursday and Friday night was routine, save for a “couple of peak periods where a customer might have waited 10 minutes” to speak to a representative on the phone, DTE spokesman John Austerberry said.

Around 150 DTE customers were without power Monday morning after the storms knocked out power to roughly 120,000 customers. Austerberry said call wait times averaged about 109 seconds during the outages.

About 60,000 lost power after storms Thursday. The second storm hit Friday as DTE was getting most of the service restored from the first bought of outages, Austerberry said.

“We took a lot of calls,” said Austerberry, and that meant some might have been put on hold. But he said about 90 percent of the outage reports came in through self-service options such as the DTE Energy app, online engines and self-service phone prompts.

Automated calls or alerts sent by DTE Thursday and Friday after the outages would have only notified customers that outages were happening in DTE coverage areas. Real-time updates weren’t possible, Austerberry said, because “we don’t know what the impact (of the outages) is going to be.”

DTE customers in Wayne County told The Detroit News over the weekend they had trouble getting through to a customer service representative following the power outages Friday and Saturday.

There was a period of time during the outages when DTE’s online Power Outage Map was not working, but there were otherwise no problems reported with the system, Austerberry said.

Judy Palnau, spokeswoman for the Michigan Public Service Commission, said Monday the call center had not received any complaints about DTE’s customer service options during the outages.

Crews worked quickly considering the the scope of the outages.

“Considering the amount of damage and the large numbers of trees that came down, I think we made really good progress getting this restoration completed,” he said.

Austerberry said all available crews worked 16-hour shifts to restore power.

DTE said tree-trim crews are cutting fallen limbs and clearing areas to assist repair crews. The utility said in order to allow the crews to quickly get to the next location where they are needed, they will leave limbs for homeowners’ use or disposal rather than remove the material.

Austerberry also said that DTE Energy customers who notice that their power doesn’t come back on when their neighbor’s does, should contact DTE immediately.

Wayne County was the hardest hit with 56,000 outages along Interstate 94 between Interstate 275 and downtown Detroit. Another 11,000 outages were reported in Macomb County and the remainder were scattered throughout the region.


Twitter: @Ian_Thibodeau