News Story

DTE to bury Detroit power lines in ‘strategic’ pilot

Southeast Michigan energy monopoly says areas with underground power lines have 30% more reliable energy

A DTE Energy pilot program in Detroit will test whether what the energy giant calls the “strategic undergrounding” of power lines will improve reliability.

DTE announced the pilot earlier this month. A Detroit Free Press report added details. DTE concedes that burying power lines is likely to reduce power outages. Areas with underground power lines “experience more than 30% better reliability than overhead, according to data from 2019 to September 2021,” the announcement states.

“Strategically burying sections of our existing overhead infrastructure, where it makes sense, is a part of our plan to improve reliability for our customers — but this will take time,” Errick Bridges, DTE’s capital projects manager, said in the company’s announcement. “Strategic undergrounding projects like this will help us improve reliability and safety across our service territory now and far in the future.”

The pilot will take place in the Buffalo-Charles and Davison neighborhoods on Detroit’s east side. DTE says it chose those areas “based on extensive data and research.” Work will begin next month, according to the Freep.

Timetables and cost estimates were not available as of publication time. DTE Energy did not respond to a query.

As the Freep’s Adrienne Roberts reports, DTE is close to wrapping up an earlier undergrounding pilot that started five years ago in northwest Detroit.

For years, DTE officials have blamed fallen trees for mass power outages, and they have stepped up the company’s tree-trimming efforts.

But after back-to-back storms in February and March caused back-to-back power outages, lawmakers have urged DTE to look beyond the trimming of trees.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.