DTE Energy already has trimmed trees along 31 miles of roads in Berkley. DTE Tree Trim Manager Shannen Palmer said there are more than 5 miles to go.

DTE Energy already has trimmed trees along 31 miles of roads in Berkley. DTE Tree Trim Manager Shannen Palmer said there are more than 5 miles to go.

Photo by Mike Koury

DTE nears end of tree trimming in Berkley

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published March 18, 2019


BERKLEY — This year already has proven to be a windy one in Michigan, with numerous days hitting speeds of more than 20 miles per hour.

A strong windstorm can knock out power in homes easily, especially with the help of tree branches that grow into nearby power lines.

The city of Berkley has been having its trees trimmed since the end of last year, which is done by DTE Energy. Public Works Director Derrick Schueller said the trimming has helped avoid power outages over the last couple of years.

“We have noticed both with the work of DTE over the last couple of years, as well as our own city forester, that significant improvement (has occured) relative to outages due to windstorms,” he said. “The recent bomb cyclone, based on our block trimming work … we really had very few issues, and that was a very windy day.”

Schueller was referring a windstorm on Feb. 25 where wind speeds hit as high as 25 mph.

DTE Tree Trim Manager Shannen Palmer said the company has trimmed about 31 miles of streets in Berkley so far and has more than 5 miles to go, which she expects to be completed in one to two months, depending on the weather. She said that during power outages, two-thirds of those without power lose it due to trees coming in contact with power lines.

“Our schedule always depends on weather,” she said. “Everything is variable, and we actually were able to put more resources than we had expected on the work, which is a good thing. So we were able to get in before storm season hits to try and make some improvements.”

When planning the tree trimming schedule, Palmer said, DTE reaches out to cities to let them know first. Then they work to let residents know if DTE will be coming to their area to trim anything on their block.

“After we send the calls and letters out to the customers, we send what we call our planners out in the field, and the planners are planning the tree work,” she said. “What they do is they go door to door and they knock on every customer’s door, and they’ll go in the backyard and take a look and see what trees need to be trimmed and if any trees need to be removed.”

Palmer said that to have trees removed, they need a signed permit from the homeowner. If DTE doesn’t get one, then the tree will just be trimmed. The specifications are to trim the trees about 10 feet from either side of nearby wires.

“Our goal is to trim trees to industry standards so we ensure the safe, reliable power for our customers while balancing the health and aesthetic of the tree,” she said.

“We also have a team of arborists and foresters — DTE staff — that really lead our efforts, ensure our tree trimming specs and the contractors in the fields are following our standards to promote the health and safety of the tree.”