DTE to invest 1.4 million in Rochester area’s electricity infrastructure

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published September 12, 2017

 Within the next year, DTE Energy plans to invest over $1.4 million in the Rochester area’s electricity distribution network.

Within the next year, DTE Energy plans to invest over $1.4 million in the Rochester area’s electricity distribution network.

Photo by Deb Jacques

ROCHESTER — Residents of the Rochester area should soon see a reduction in power outages, according to DTE Energy officials.

Oakland County Commissioner Adam Kochenderfer, R-Rochester Hills, recently announced that within the next year, DTE Energy plans to invest over $1.4 million in the Rochester area’s electricity distribution network.

“The Rochester area has experienced a disproportionate number of outages during the past few years, and I was getting more phone calls and more emails about them, with increasing frequency,” he said.

While losing power can be a hassle, Kochenderfer said it can also be a health issue.

“Nobody likes when the power goes out, but you may have senior citizens, for example, who have medical devices that are plugged in, and they could face some very serious issues if they don’t have power for three hours. For our family, my toddler is upset because she can’t watch ‘Mickey Mouse Clubhouse’ for a couple of hours — and trust me, that is its own type of crisis — but there are some people that are facing some really serious problems from these power outages,” he said.

After witnessing multiple power interruptions in the Rochester community himself, Kochenderfer formed a study group within the Oakland County Board of Commissioners last year to examine the reliability of the electricity infrastructure in the Rochester area — and across the county — and he contacted DTE to find a solution.

“I talked with DTE specifically about the issues that Rochester has been having, and they investigated some of those problems and found that there was some aging infrastructure in the Rochester area,” he said. “The problem that we have is that the lines that are currently in place really aren’t up to today’s design standards. By that I mean they’re not designed to withstand the heavy tree conditions that we have in Rochester.”

RoNeisha Mullen, a DTE spokesperson, said trees are a leading cause of power outages and account for two-thirds of the time that DTE customers spend without power.

“Due to the heavy tree conditions of the Rochester community, we’re strengthening our electric system to better withstand the environmental circumstances there,” she said in an email.

The investment by DTE, Kochenderfer explained, will include several major projects intended to strengthen the resiliency of the system. It includes the complete rebuilding of miles of distribution lines —  all designed to withstand the heavy tree conditions of the community — between Tienken Road and University Drive beginning in early 2018. 

“Rochester is the oldest city in the county, so we have very mature tree growth. And DTE recognized that. … They will be replacing those overhead distribution lines, so we are hoping we get people some relief. That is the goal. If there are other issues, we will address them, but I think this is a very substantial step forward in giving residents relief,” Kochenderfer said.

Over the summer, DTE also replaced underground residential distribution lines in the area south of Tienken Road and east of Livernois Road.

Rochester City Manager Blaine Wing said the city appreciates and thanks Kochenderfer and the Oakland County study group for helping secure the commitment from DTE to invest in electric infrastructure in the greater Rochester area. 

“Hopefully, these improvements will reduce the number of power outages Rochester residents and businesses have experienced,” he said in an email.

“We realize that power outages are troublesome for businesses and families as they depend increasingly on electricity. These upgrades will allow us to provide more reliable electricity for existing homes and businesses and provide capacity for future growth,” Mullen said in an email.

For more information, contact Kochenderfer at (586) 321-1332, email akcommissioner@gmail.com or visit www.oakgov.com/boc.