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Report Released On Detroit Wind, Fire Storms

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detroit fires 090810 004 Report Released On Detroit Wind, Fire StormsA report released Wednesday on the wind and fire storms in Detroit this summer does not indicate neglect on the part of Detroit Edison.

At least 85 homes, some on Robinwood Street, were destroyed or scorched by the flames that were fed by 50 miles per hour winds in early September. Mayor Dave Bing called the fires a “natural disaster.”

The Michigan Public Service Commission investigation examined how the storm may have affected Detroit Edison’s distribution system, how the utility responded, whether there was evidence of a failure on the part of Detroit Edison to properly maintain its distribution system in Detroit, whether the utility was properly prepared to receive and respond to customer calls to report outages, and whether the utility sufficiently addressed public safety concerns associated with down power lines in a timely manner.

While the report shows no fault in Edison’s response, it does make some recommendations which include:

–making improvements on wire-down relief time, and restoration time for circuits in the city of Detroit that significantly exceed the five-year average restoration time. Staff noted that the company’s average relief time on Sept. 7 was 130 minutes, longer than the company’s goal of 120 minutes.

–a meeting with Detroit’s Public Lighting Department and other companies that share Detroit Edison power poles to reexamine current pole attachment agreements to fund appropriate vegetation management clearance. In addition, the MPSC staff would like to see these parties come up with an agreement on how wire-down reliefs and repairs will be addressed, noting that the restoration process can be hampered when companies are called to repair wires for which they are not responsible.

–the implementation of better communication measures among the Detroit Fire Department, Detroit Police Department, Detroit Homeland Security & Emergency Management and Detroit Edison. In particular, the MPSC staff noted that proper use of the personal identification number in reporting downed wired will ensure that these reports will be prioritized, resulting in a faster response. It also recommends that Detroit Edison use its new customer service protocol for storms in addition to communicating completed repairs to customers.

Highlights from the report indicate:

–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.

–Data demonstrate that Detroit Edison completed proper maintenance and reliability improvements.

–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.

–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.

The utility has until January 4th to respond to the report.

At the conclusion of the process, the Commission may propose remedial action.

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