Update 2/25/23: According to DTE Energy’s outage center, roughly 290,000 customers remain without power.
Original story below.
Hundreds of thousands of utility customers in Michigan remain without power after an ice storm glazed significant portions of the state Wednesday through Thursday morning. Utility officials predict it will take several days to restore electricity for customers.
More than 700,000 customers across the state lost power as freezing rain coated live wires, trees and utility poles with thick ice.
Trevor Lauer, president and COO of DTE Electric, says the ice storm overwhelmed repair workers in the early morning hours today.
“In between five o’clock and eight o’clock we had approximately 2,000 wires come down,” Lauer says. “Our crews are heroic, they do an unbelievable job. But I can’t dispatch 2,000 people to 2,000 locations.”
DTE brought in reinforcements to help repair crews.
Lauer is directing them to prioritize restoring power to hospitals and medical systems, and predicts any schools closed because of an outage should have their electricity working by the start of next week. He also warns people to keep away from downed power lines and treat them as live wires.
“From Michigan to Lake Erie, we have wires down. Some of those are going to be live and you need to treat every wire like it is a live wire. Stay away from it,” Lauer warns.
Lauer says they’re hoping to have power restored to 95% of DTE customers by Sunday.
Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib has long been a critic of the utility company. After checking in with senior citizens in Wayne, she tells WDET’s Russ McNamara that Metro Detroiters aren’t getting the services they’re paying for.
Listen: Rep. Rashida Tlaib wants to hold DTE Energy accountable for power outages
“It is very critical and important to know that we pay some of the highest rates in the nation and have the most unreliable grid,” Tlaib says. “It isn’t just winter storms like today, it’s when the wind is scuffed up. It’s when we have heavy rainfall. For years, we kept being told that it’s because of trees. Well, the trees got trimmed and we still are seeing the lack of stability and investment by this company that continues to see profit over and over again every year — that they are not investing into the electrical grid.”
Ed. note: DTE Energy is a financial contributor to WDET.