DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – Utility officials are helping to improve energy reliability in Detroit’s public school system.
Detroit-based DTE Energy Co. says that since November 2014 the utility has converted 55 Detroit schools from the Detroit Public Lighting Department’s grid to its power grid and performed electrical maintenance on existing systems before 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.
Plans call for more buildings to be converted.
Before the grid conversion project began, schools such as Fisher Magnet Upper Academy, Mann Learning Community, and Schulze Academy for Technology and Arts experienced some of the most severe interruptions in power with frequent closures that lasted for days, often damaging critical equipment, According to the Detroit Public School Community District (DPSCD). 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, DPSCD director of energy and sustainability, said in a statement. “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 as well, including Cobo Hall, Coleman A. Young International Airport, Detroit Receiving Hospital, Wayne State University, Belle Isle, and city government buildings.