The Michigan Public Service Commission recently approved a plan from DTE Energy that will have the utility bolstering its emergency storm response and funding public education efforts regarding the hazards of downed power lines after a Detroit woman was electrocuted by a downed DTE power line following a significant storm last May.
“After the May storm, a woman came in contact with a live downed wire at the rear of a Detroit property, resulting in her death. The Commission’s proceeding examined the utility’s response to the storm and changes to improve safety,” the MPSC said in a news release.
The Detroit Free Press previously reported that DTE crews found the woman’s body after arriving for storm repairs.
Among the things DTE must do as part of this agreement is providing nearly $1 million toward education efforts, primarily at the elementary school level. Here is an itemized list:
- Provide additional first responders to meet response times established in the Commission’s Administrative Rules.
- Participate in an MPSC initiative to improve downed wire response processes.
- Track the cause of downed power lines.
- Provide $725,000 through 2020 to develop a program with the National Energy Foundation to educate kindergarten through fifth grade students on electricity hazards.
- Provide $175,000 this year to the Michigan Fire Service Instructors Association to buy electrical safety equipment and train local fire departments.
- Work to eliminate rear-lot power line hazards in Detroit.
- Not recover program costs through customer rates.
DTE also must report to the state commission in regard to its improvements in response times for downed lines, how many students take part in the education program, and how the company’s maintenance efforts are addressing the issues at hand.
It’s clear how big of a job it is to maintain a grid, and how dangerous downed power lines can be for customers. While DTE cannot recoup costs for this agreement by passing a rate increase to its customers, it’s clear that it does cost a lot of money to maintain the grid, and those costs are seemingly always rising. Michigan has among the highest rates for power in the nation, making solar energy an attractive solution. By going solar at your home, you are reducing your dependency on the grid and putting your money toward a product that you can own and a commodity that you can similarly own in the energy your panels produce.
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