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DTE not at fault for Detroit fires

DTE energy in Detroit
Ian Freimuth
/
flickr user
The DTE Energy campus as viewed from the MGM Grand Casino in Detroit

The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) issued a report today on DTE's role in the fires that swept through Detroit during a windstorm on September 7th, 2010. The report found no wrongdoing on DTE's part.

After the fires that burned dozens of homes in Detroit, activists blamed DTE for the fires. Shortly after the blazes were out MLive reported that "Members of The Committee Against Utility Shut Offs allege that DTE has aging infrastructure that caused 71 structures — including 29 occupied homes — to burn in several Detroit neighborhoods."

Here are some highlight from the report:

  • Staff did not observe any overwhelming issue with the age of the distribution system in Detroit or the affected area, and found that Detroit Edison spent 14.5 percent more on operations and maintenance in the city of Detroit than on the rest of the system.
  • Records show that the utility deployed over 1,900 employees to assist in the restoration efforts, and that response times to outage restoration and wire-downs were better than average.
  • On a per-mile basis over the last five years, Detroit Edison spent approximately 26 percent more on tree-trimming/vegetation management in the city of Detroit than the rest of the system.  The MPSC staff observed that improper tree trimming was not a factor in the wire-downs that occurred during the storm.

The report also said that rare conditions were observed that day stating that "the National Weather Service had declared Sept. 7 a 'Red Flag' day, a rare declaration that indicates there is an environment for fires to start and spread easily.

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