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

Source(s): Energy News Network

By Brian Allnutt


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.


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.


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. 


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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