DTE offers rebates for Madison Heights residents who experienced outages

By: Andy Kozlowski, | Madison - Park News | Published April 13, 2016

MADISON HEIGHTS — City officials from Madison Heights met with representatives from DTE Energy recently to discuss frequent power outages in the city and what is being done to address them.

Mayor Pro Tem Mark Bliss attended, accompanied by city staff. The meeting was held in response to the Feb. 22 City Council hearing where DTE promised to follow up on council’s concerns.

First, the city has learned that DTE will be spending $12,000 on a program providing rebates to households affected by outages. DTE has identified nearly 500 households in Madison Heights that would qualify for the program, based on frequent and/or prolonged outages. 

Each household can receive a rebate of $25 by visiting www.dteenergy.com, then going to “Problems & Safety” and scrolling down to “Credits, Damages and Claims” — the link to apply for a bill credit is under “Service Quality and Reliability Standards.”

“The $25 rebate may not seem like much, but I’m hoping that we get the word out because that money … is owed to our residents to pay them back for food they may have thrown out or any other inconveniences they’ve suffered,” Bliss stated in an email. “With many residents on a fixed income in our city, that $25 could make a difference in their budget this month.”

Bliss encouraged people to speak to their neighbors and let them know about the program.

DTE also informed the city that according to its numbers, outages have increased roughly 50 percent since the last time tree trimming was done in the city in 2011. Since two-thirds of the outages are reportedly caused by trees, DTE is switching to a “continuous approach” that it feels will be more proactive. Tree trimming is already underway, with eight to 10 trucks active throughout the city.

The tree-trimming services are free to residents, and no trees will be removed without consent of the owner. Customers are contacted about the program via a letter, a phone call and a visit from a DTE representative to discuss the proposed work, Bliss said.

Finally, one other notable item to come from the meeting was DTE’s pledge to prioritize the senior community in the event of an outage. The city has provided DTE with the addresses of senior communities so that DTE’s response team will direct its resources first when restoring power.

“This increased communication between the city and DTE has already yielded great results,” Bliss said.

Mayor Brian Hartwell seemed optimistic, but stated in an email that he’ll wait and see how DTE handles the situation before declaring the issue resolved.

“In the short term, City Council solved a few problems,” Hartwell said. “DTE will upgrade old equipment, voluntarily pay outage rebates, and clean up its easement by trimming and removing hazardous trees. But the long term is equally important. Will DTE remain committed to delivering reliable electricity in Madison Heights? Time will tell — that is, if your clock isn’t flashing.”