USA: Climate change brings urgency to debate over Detroit’s grid resilience

Source(s)
Energy News Network

By Brian Allnutt

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The looming threat of climate change is adding urgency to the debate about how to improve grid resilience in and around Detroit. Utility DTE Energy is proposing $4.2 billion in grid modernization investments over five years that include tree-trimming and infrastructure replacement, but critics want to see microgrids and distributed generation play a bigger role. Here are five perspectives on how to reduce the risk of power outages in the region.

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Grid hardening, or resiliency, means replacing distribution poles and wires and building new substations. DTE also now spends more than $150 million a year on tree-trimming where it previously spent $30 million, [DTE President and Chief Operating Officer Trevor] Lauer said. Tree-trimming is also critical amid more frequent extreme weather events, as high winds and freezing temperatures cause a majority of outages.

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Yousef Rabhi, a progressive member of the Michigan Legislature from Ann Arbor, believes a combination of distributed power and microgrids can produce a more resilient grid system and minimize blackouts. 

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The Citizens Utility Board of Michigan published a report last month noting lagging reliability across the state, including DTE. The group’s executive director, Amy Bandyk, said DTE’s grid spending should include “performance-based metrics” that hold the company accountable.

Douglas Jester, a Lansing-based consultant who wrote the CUB report, said much of DTE’s reliability spending now has been “reactive repairs.” 

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