DTE Energy’s upgrades to gas lines, which affect more than 2,800 homes and businesses in Harper Woods, have been causing outages of streetlights throughout the city. DTE and city officials are asking for patience from residents as they complete the project.

DTE Energy’s upgrades to gas lines, which affect more than 2,800 homes and businesses in Harper Woods, have been causing outages of streetlights throughout the city. DTE and city officials are asking for patience from residents as they complete the project.

Photo provided by Anne Santori


DTE asks for patience after gas line upgrades affect Harper Woods street lamps

By: Brendan Losinski | Advertiser Times | Published October 26, 2018

 The DTE Energy project in Harper Woods will upgrade aging gas lines and move gas meters from the inside to the outside of many homes. The company says it will mean more efficient, less intrusive and safer service.

The DTE Energy project in Harper Woods will upgrade aging gas lines and move gas meters from the inside to the outside of many homes. The company says it will mean more efficient, less intrusive and safer service.

Photo provided by Anne Santori

HARPER WOODS — The city of Harper Woods and DTE Energy are reaching out to Harper Woods residents following several complaints of streetlight outages caused by a gas line upgrade project in the community.

The work in Harper Woods began in 2017 and is part of a larger infrastructure project being done by DTE.

“We are upgrading partial infrastructure in some of Harper Woods for gas mains and service lines,” said Brian Valarance, of DTE, who is in charge of the Harper Woods portion of the project. “We are renewing the cast iron gas mains and putting in plastic ones, and we are moving the gas meters from inside homes outside. We also are increasing the gas pressure to 60 pounds per square inch from 5 pounds per square inch.”

The entire project will affect several communities throughout the area.

“This project will include $1.2 billion of investment over the next two years throughout the metro Detroit area,” Valarance added. “Service for 24,300 homes in southeast Michigan will be improved by these gas line improvements, which is 54 miles of gas lines. That’s 2,800 commercial and residential locations in Harper Woods that will be improved. The work is between Kelly Road and Harper (Avenue) and between Huntington to Moross.”

Valarance said the DTE teams are sometimes hitting cables connected to streetlights where the teams are working on the gas lines.

Harper Woods City Manager Joe Rheker said that residents have been reaching out to the city and voicing their complaints about the outages at City Council meetings. He is asking the public to be patient and to remember that the work being done will ultimately improve the community.

“A project of this scope and magnitude is going to cause some problems,” said Rheker. “We don’t know when those challenges will happen and how they will happen, but DTE is responding. When this is over, our infrastructure for both gas and lighting will be far more reliable. We just have to ask residents for their patience while this process continues.”

Valarance addressed the Harper Woods City Council at its meeting Oct. 15 to try to better inform the public about the state of the project. Unfortunately, Rheker said, due to a case of bad timing, more light outages undercut the reassuring message that Valarance was trying to convey.

“Since the meeting, things have taken a nosedive as far as the light outages,” continued Rheker. “The gas situation is fine, but the lights have been adversely affected by the project. We were getting a lot of complaints (from residents) about this. We’ve been in close contact with DTE, and they have crews all over the place fixing issues as they come up.”

Adding to the poor optics for the project, several streetlights in Harper Woods have also been brought offline for short periods of time due to an unrelated project where some city lights are being upgraded to less expensive LED lights.

“We’re also doing the light conversion to new, more efficient LEDs, just coincidently,  which also makes it look like there’s a lot more problems going on than there is,” said Rheker. “These two projects just happened to get done at the same time, which means a lot of our streetlights are going to be out at one time.”

Despite these issues, Valarance said the project is going well and is on schedule to be completed by its projected goal.

“The project is going well from our standpoint. We get feedback from customers in this community and work with Joe (Rheker) and his team,” said Valarance. “The project is on target and we’ve had very few issues, and those we’ve had, we’ve responded to quickly. We’re on track to finish most, if not all, construction by Thanksgiving and all restoration work three or four weeks after that, depending on the weather. … I don’t foresee any reason why we won’t hit our timetable.”

Valarance and Rheker both want to tell the public that the project will be an improvement despite the temporary frustrations involved while work is being completed.

“We won’t need to make appointments with people to do a (gas) meter reading with (the meters) being outside of the house,” Valarance said. “The community as a whole will be safer because we are getting rid of all of this older equipment. We are making the gas meters more easily accessible, and everything will be more efficient and reliable.”

Valarace said residents can contact DTE even after dark if there is a streetlight issue. There is a community hotline number, (800) 548-4655, that people can call if they have questions about the gas structure upgrades. They also can call the local DTE station at (313) 256-6227.