DETROIT (WWJ) — In a move to reduce the number of lost school days due to power outages, Detroit Public Schools announced a plan to transition all schools’ electric power from the City of Detroit Public Lighting Department to DTE Energy on Friday.
DPS schools’ electric systems will still be at risk for harsh weather conditions bringing down power lines during storms. However, DPS is hopeful that the overall response to these issues will be much faster than it has been in recent years.
Emergency Manager Jack Martin emphasized that while none of the changes are quick fixes — noting that the former PLD system has been in disrepair for years — the collaboration between the city and DTE throughout this process has been excellent.
“Our teachers, principals and administration shared the extreme frustration of our parents this past year as the failure of the City of Detroit’s power grid repeatedly hindered the educational process for our children who needed to be in class and learning every single day to ensure academic achievement continues to progress,” Martin said.
Martin added that he is pleased both the school district and DTE are working together to find solutions that minimize outages.
“This transition to another power provider was long overdue,” Martin said. “Although we know that the DPS electric service may still be at risk as a result of ‘mother nature’ bringing down power lines during storms, we are hopeful that restoration will be much faster than it has been in recent years. The district is encouraged by the progress already underway by DTE to help ensure lost school days will be minimized.”
DTE Energy has already begun to build redundancy into circuits servicing several schools including the circuits connecting Emerson and Ludington schools.
“While the complete transition to DTE power lines will take about 5 years, DTE already has taken responsibility for all of PLD’s former customers,” DPS Chief Operating Officer Mark Schrupp said. “Therefore, when we have an outage, we call the DTE service hotline and DTE is responsible for restoring power.”
DTE and DPS officials have met to work out protocols for giving easements to bury new lines and place transformers on district sites, which will also help create more reliable power distribution to DPS schools.