Grosse Pointe WoodsOctober 16, 2013
Residents express frustration with DTE at meeting
By K. Michelle Moran
C & G Staff Writer
GROSSE POINTE WOODS — Residents wanted answers, but many left seemingly displeased with what they heard at an informational session held earlier this week with DTE representatives to discuss ongoing power-outage issues.
Four DTE representatives came to the Grosse Pointe Woods Community Center Oct. 14 to update residents approximately a year after the last meeting with a crowded room of angry community members, which followed summer 2012 power outages.
More than 30 residents and city officials sat down to hear what DTE representatives had to say Oct. 14. Frustrations ran high during the meeting.
“I’ve heard, just this evening, some residents have outages today, as we speak, in that area,” City Administrator Al Fincham said.
The biggest problems in the city are in the area north of Vernier and east of Mack; however, there are residents in other parts of the city who complain of power issues, as well.
DTE representatives gave a presentation and explained that while there were slightly more than 100 homes affected that day by a power outage due to an equipment issue, more homes would have been affected if DTE hadn’t made the changes it already made in that area. They said more work is slated to start next month.
That biggest component is splitting residents onto two separate circuits, according to DTE officials.
They’ve been in the city clearing branches away from lines and performing circuit maintenance, DTE representatives said.
They are working toward about a $4 million investment in Grosse Pointe Woods.
DTE representative Kathy Jordan said that DTE previously had made a commitment of $1.4 million.
“We’re already projected at $4 million, so we really are taking this seriously,” she said.
Jordan said they’re there because they care.
While the city doesn’t have control over DTE’s work, Mayor Robert Novitke, City Council and the city administration have been vocal to try to get things moving on changes to the system that would help alleviate years of power issues in the city.
While many power-outage issues can be traced to weather conditions, a Grosse Pointe Woods resident in the crowd said they are told by DTE that the outage was caused by a lightning strike even when the sky is blue and clear.
Though DTE representatives at the meeting said that they are making progress and meeting their commitment, residents don’t see it that way. Residents said they were promised that the work, especially the key component, was going to be finished early this year.
Residents are angry not only about sitting in the dark with the power outages, but about financial losses from damaged appliances and spoiled food.
Some reportedly have tried filing claims with DTE, but they were denied compensation.
“We need something concrete to replace what we lost,” resident Glenn Mack said. “We’re not getting the full product, and the product you’re selling us is damaging our things.
“It’s not like this has been a small problem,” he said. “This has been going on for years and years.”
The issue has affected others besides residents. Big Boy owner Dan Curis spoke about his frustration. Every time the power goes out for an extended period, he stands to lose more than $25,000 in food. He said every time he calls to see how long the power is out, they tell him a couple of hours. Then, he said, he calls later to hear that it will be a couple more hours.
If he knew sooner that the outage wouldn’t be fixed quickly, he said he could donate the food to a charity to help those in need.
When asked what they plan to do about those losses, the DTE representatives explained that they do not have authority over claims and could not change policy.
Residents expressed frustration that they believed DTE wasn’t sending out the right people — the people who can make decisions.
“We get no answers,” Mack said. “We just get those blank faces.”
Other residents said they felt they’ve heard the same promises in the past with no fixes.
“I have lived through every one of the outings,” said Tom Sullivan, a 55-year resident of the city. “I’m not hearing anything tonight that is any different than any other update.”
DTE has promised to create a report of the work that is being done so that residents can see it and to talk about possibly having someone from claims explain the claims situation to residents.