Power outages in the Pointes–almost as common this summer as the pool and popsicles–have some council members hot under the collar and demanding DTE Energy deliver answers that amount to more than a "dog and pony show."
Councilman James Robson said he had received numerous calls about the this summer and said it's time to get a better understanding and promises to change the system failures–or else demand DTE reimburse customers. Council members pointed out that the reimbursement is already a DTE policy.
"Do we tell the people this is something they have to live with, I don't think so," Robson said. "Do we bring them in for another dog and pony show next month, I don't think so."
A DTE engineer had been tentatively scheduled to appear at Monday's council meeting, but was unable to attend. Robson said the recently, are not really getting at the root of the problem or holding the utility accountable anyway.
DTE officials also met with City of Grosse Pointe officials recently and agreed to look into power service problems there, according to City Manager Pete Dame.
DTE has said the main source of the outages, including some over the Fourth of July that lasted for as long as eight days, are the result of the aged system that is on an update schedule.
City Manager Dale Krajniak and Robert Denner said the Park's outages may be as much or more about the trees–and DTE's decision several years back to cut its trimming schedule.
Still, some residents are sensitive and protective of the trees and the way DTE's workers trim them. Tree problems have also been blamed by DTE officials but not accepted as a valid excuse in Grosse Pointe Woods as council members there say the Pointes are not the only communities with well-established trees. One only need to look to neighboring communities or even some north of Detroit.
Krajniak said the city's next step–and the next step for any customer not satisfied by DTE's response to their complaints–is going to the Public Service Commission, the agency that oversees utilities. He also added that due to the regularity of power loss the city is looking into purchasing backup generators for its parks.
Councilwoman Laurie Arora suggested Krajniak go to the commission in unison with the Pointes' other city managers.
"We've been down this road before…DTE came in, gave its presentation. We're at a crossroads," Robson said. "It seems to go on and on and on. I don't know if there's something we can do legally. My son lives in New York City near Times Square and that neighborhood has had no power outages...
"I'm at my tipping point now," Robson said. Of DTE's explanations, he said, "Yadda, yadda, yadda, blah, blah, blah."
Councilman Denner said he agrees it's time to demand more, especially when it comes to the utility's decision to wait so long before trimming trees around wires.
"It's worth calling them out on," Denner said. He also asked the city to request detailed reports of power outages, their causes, their duration and more.
"I'd like to see that report and make them present that to us…It will also help us in any further action we might want to pursue," he said.
Councilman Gregory Theokas joined in, calling DTE a "regulated monopoly. Cities have no input. We have to go through the public service commission to identify something they can do. We're helpless victims of an entity we don't control."