DTE outage map caused unusual confusion, Ann Arbor official says

ANN ARBOR, MI — DTE Energy has come under heavy criticism for recent extended power outages affecting hundreds of thousands of people, and that includes numerous complaints in Ann Arbor about DTE’s new outage map.

It’s flawed, inaccurate and caused confusion in the wake of the Feb. 22 ice storm that left many residents without power for days, said D-4th Ward City Council Member Jen Eyer.

“We expect better from DTE when it comes to a winter storm where people are freezing in their homes,” she said.

She and City Administrator Milton Dohoney are now arranging a meeting with DTE officials to discuss the concerns.

There have been widespread issues with DTE’s new map showing incorrect outage statuses, Eyer said, noting that she has received reports from a number of residents about DTE marking their blocks or neighborhoods as having the power restored when it was not and the residents had to re-report the outages.

In many cases, DTE’s automated text and email alerts to customers also conflicted with people’s home outage statuses or what the map was showing, Eyer said.

“The level of confusion in the community based on DTE’s communication was simply out of this world,” she said, noting that many were unsure when power would be restored.

An extension cord connects a neighbor’s house to Grant Alpert’s house to supply his sump pump in Ann Arbor on Wednesday, March 1, 2023. Alpert’s service line was damaged by an ice storm in the early hours of Thursday February 23 and an electrician advised him to close the main circuit breaker until the line was repaired.

While DTE has announced it will send $35 credits to customers who have been without power for 96 hours, some are still unsure if they will be eligible in cases where DTE has marked power restored earlier than ‘She really was,’ Eyer said.

DTE did not respond to a request for comment from MLive/The Ann Arbor News, although on its website it describes its outage map as newly improved, noting that it allows people to search by address and zoom. for information on specific locations, with clickable icons to display trap numbers.

DTE deployed a YouTube video on February 5 explaining how to use the card.

“DTE’s new and improved outage map provides an updated user experience, making it easier to get accurate and timely information at your fingertips,” he says. “You’ll notice a streamlined look and feel that lets users quickly access the information they need.”

By clicking the menu button, users can report outages and downed power lines and check outage statuses.

By clicking on an information icon, users can toggle to view outages by zip code or county.

As of Friday afternoon March 3, the map showed that 223 DTE customers in Washtenaw County remained without power, representing 0.13% of customers. There were still more than 2,000 other customers without power in the rest of DTE’s service territory in southeast Michigan, according to the map.

‘Absolutely unacceptable’: Washtenaw County leaders blast DTE Energy and consumers after ice storm

Some residents have taken to social media to criticize the new map, pointing out that it does not allow users to see an overview of the geographical outage boundaries, but now displays small icons with outage numbers for general areas. Some have speculated that this was intentional to avoid people taking screenshots that more clearly show the extent of the outages.

Eyer said she communicates with DTE throughout outages, sharing examples of concerned DTE residents not having their outage statuses correct.

She launched a call on Nextdoor for more people to share their stories, getting 140 responses from residents who expressed concerns about lack of information or inaccurate information from DTE, including neighborhoods marked as having power restored then. they still had no power.

“I don’t think I’ve seen anything like this in our community before,” Eyer said of the mass confusion.

“You should be able to look up your address and get good information,” she said. “That’s what’s really concerning is that so many people were in the position of feeling obligated – and they had to – re-report because their entire neighborhood was mistakenly marked as resolved.”

A fallen tree branch and downed electrical service line in Grant Alpert’s backyard in Ann Arbor on Wednesday, March 1, 2023. Nearly a week after the storm that caused the damage, Alpert says he could not ask DTE Energy to repair the damaged line.

DTE critics also raised concerns about the for-profit utility, during a recent quarterly earnings call with shareholders, which outlined plans to cut operating and maintenance costs this year by postponing maintenance work, delaying hiring, reducing its subcontractor workforce and limiting overtime.

This causes some proponents of creating an electric utility to reiterate calls to scrap the DTE in Ann Arbor.

Is it time for public power in Ann Arbor? The group pleads after the latest blackouts

In response to concerns about the cuts, DTE said last week that because it invested more heavily in maintenance in 2022, the company is able to postpone non-critical maintenance work this year and reschedule work. for 2024.

The cost-cutting measures are one-time and the deferral of maintenance does not include critical reliability programs like tree trimming, according to DTE.

City Councilwoman Dharma Akmon, D-4th Ward, said Thursday she was appalled that some residents still had no power after more than a week since the outages.

In a Twitter post on Friday, Council Member Ayesha Ghazi Edwin, D-3rd Ward, said she was contacted about an elderly resident on the ninth day without power, with another winter storm on the way. She encouraged residents still without power to email city officials at citycouncil@a2gov.org.

“All members of #a2council and our mayor want to know if you are still without power and help you restore it,” she wrote.


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