DTE gas meter and main project continues in Grosse Pointe Park

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published June 18, 2019

GROSSE POINTE PARK — A gas renewal program by DTE Energy is continuing this summer in Grosse Pointe Park.

Representatives from the utility company addressed the Park City Council during a meeting June 10 to update residents and officials about progress so far and plans going forward.

Jennifer Whitteaker, regional manager of CGA regional relations in Wayne County for DTE, said the $3.5 billion project is aimed at improving the safety and reliability of the natural gas infrastructure. It includes gas meter relocation from the inside of homes and businesses to the outside; installation of new pipes and service lines; and installation of new natural gas advanced meters.

Advantages to the project include fewer estimated bills, remote gas meter shutoff in the event of a leak, elimination of the need for DTE workers to enter homes to perform maintenance, and a reduced risk of gas leaks because of “new and improved materials,” Whitteaker said.

As of early June, she said DTE had installed 14.6 miles of new gas mains in the Park out of 23 total miles of gas mains. Of 2,339 home gas meters, Whitteaker said 307 had been relocated outside the home.

Property restoration is done in phases, and Whitteaker said their goal is to have it done within 30 days, if possible; weather and the time of year when work is undertaken both impact this. The stages for restoration are: a temporary patch, hard surface repairs such as concrete, and soft surfaces like grass and landscaping.

For customers whose meters were upgraded between December 2018 and April 2019, Whitteaker said property restoration should be done by June 30. For those whose meters are upgraded between May and November 2019, she said property restoration is expected to be completed within 30 days. For those whose meters will be upgraded between November 2019 and April 2020, restoration should be finished by June 30, 2020. Residents can follow the progress of the project by visiting dteenergy.com/gasrenewal.

DTE will first notify customers of the need to move their residential meters via a letter and, if DTE has an email address on file for the customer, an email, Whitteaker said. Residents who don’t schedule a time for DTE to move the meter will receive a reminder notice, followed by a 10-day notice to terminate service. DTE will also place door hangers on homes to schedule an appointment, as well as to outline the restoration process.

“We do know how intrusive this project is,” Whitteaker said.

Mayor Robert Denner said that because many Park residents spend long periods in the summer at cottages in northern Michigan or in Florida during the winter, DTE should plan on a longer lead time to set up appointments with those residents. He also urged DTE to contact residents electronically, if possible, as residents might not receive a letter or door hanger in time. Whitteaker said DTE doesn’t have email addresses of customers unless they sign up for electronic bill payment, but she would work with city officials to obtain additional resident email addresses.

As to meter location, Whitteaker said DTE will try to put the meter in a spot that the homeowner prefers, if it can.

“Our folks will work with the homeowner,” she said. “If they can (put the meter in the desired place), they will. Safety is No. 1 for us, and we want the homeowner to be happy.”

However, Whitteaker said there “might be a fee” to put the meter in certain locations because of the challenge and work involved.

In addition, not all locations are possible. Bryan Valrance, general manager of gas operations for DTE’s gas renewal program, said there are “identified concerns about where we can’t put a gas meter,” such as in a driveway or in front of a window that opens.

“If it’s possible, we will absolutely move it (somewhere else),” Valrance said of the meter.

City Manager Dale Krajniak said DTE will be working on streets between Balfour and Cadieux roads this year, and will cover the area between Balfour and Wayburn Street next year.

Krajniak acknowledged that the project is “extremely disruptive,” but he said DTE has worked hard to minimize that.

“Every time we’ve raised a concern, within two days, it’s resolved,” he said.

Krajniak said Whitteaker has been especially helpful.

“She’s done a tremendous job for us over the years,” he said.

Residents with questions or concerns can visit the DTE Energy website or call (313) 270-9240 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Whitteaker said messages are returned within two business days.

“We know this is a tough project, (but) we know at the end of the day, it gives us a much better infrastructure,” Denner said.

Information and links to DTE Energy can be found on the Park’s website, www.grossepointepark.org.