VIDEO: Detroit schools move to DTE Energy power grid, see fewer outages

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As a new school year is underway, Detroit school students can expect to spend more time in their classrooms due to DTE Energy’s work to improve energy reliability in the city’s school systems.

Since November 2014, DTE has converted 55 Detroit schools from the Detroit Public Lighting Department’s grid to its power grid and performed electrical maintenance on existing systems prior to their conversion.

As a result, Detroit schools experienced a 99 percent reduction in the number of school closings caused by electrical failures, with 184 school closings reported during the 2013-2014 school year and only two closings during the 2015-2016 school year.

“DTE’s partnership with the Public Lighting Department and Detroit schools is an example of our commitment to providing reliable, cost-effective service to all of our customers and positively impact the communities where we live and work,” said Robert Richard, senior vice president of DTE Energy’s Major Enterprise Projects. “Our employees take pride in providing exceptional customer service to improve the quality of life and safety for our customers — and their school children.”

When Detroit Public Lighting Department customers became DTE customers in July 2014, DTE partnered with the PLD to improve energy reliability in the schools and respond to power outages in minutes, rather than days. Crews were tasked with trimming trees on school property when it was discovered that overgrown vegetation was a significant contributing factor to power failures.

DTE Energy continues work to convert an additional 80 to 90 Detroit schools to its grid.

Since DTE began providing service to Detroit schools, the improvements have been impactful:

·      In 2013-2014, all Detroit schools, including the Detroit Public School Community District (DPSCD), parochial, private, charter and Education Achievement Authority schools reported a total of 184 school closings as a result of power outages.

·      In 2013-2014, DPSCD alone, which serves 50 percent of Detroit’s students, reported 86 days during which at least one school was closed due to an electrical outage. These closures equated to 14,000 hours of lost school time for DPSCD students.

·      In 2014-2015, Detroit schools experienced 191 outages and 44 school closings.

·      In 2015-2016, there were 31 outages, with only two school closings reported due to power failure.

According to DPSCD, before the grid conversion project began, schools such as Fisher Magnet Upper Academy (15491 Maddelein Street), Mann Learning Community (19625 Elmira Street) and Schulze Academy for Technology and Arts (10700 Santa Maria Street) experienced some of the most severe interruptions in power with frequent closures that lasted for days, often damaging critical equipment. Brown outs were almost a daily occurrence in some schools, causing lights to flicker and dim, disrupting classrooms and impacting the students’ ability to focus and learn. DTE worked with DPSCD to prioritize schools by need and make significant improvements.

“Increased power reliability and reduced power outages have helped create an environment that is more conducive to learning for our students,” said Emile Lauzzana, director of energy and sustainability for Detroit Public Schools Community District. “Overall, teachers and students feel a new sense of safety and security in the building and parents have confidence that when they drop their child off in the morning, they will not be getting a call to come pick their child up again in the middle of the day because of a power failure.”

The conversion project impacts a total of 115 business customers and institutions. Cobo Hall, Coleman A. Young International Airport, Detroit Receiving Hospital, Wayne State University, Belle Isle, and city government buildings will also benefit from the grid conversion project.

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