Map: Electric Grid Hardening vs Modernization in Detroit

Were you without power for multiple days? A likely cause is DTE’s lack of priority for infrastructure modernization in Detroit neighborhoods. Present efforts have focused on hardening, which has most often been ridiculed as “fighting with the trees.” Hardening could also include replacing poles, but the majority of “hardening” efforts in Detroit have been tree trimming and power line upgrading. After the most recent storm, DTE’s map of “reliability improvements” changed to include much more utility pole inspection and repair. It remains unclear what constitutes “upgrading” or “strengthening.”

The City of Detroit is served by 4.8 kV power, which is an older, less reliable system, with far less capacity than 13.2 kV. The 4.8 kV system, which is more than a decade past its expected use, has 13% the capacity as 13.2 kV. Modernization efforts prepare Detroit for greater capacity that could support improved solar and other clean, renewable energy efforts. DTE has noted its prioritization is focus on population and economic development. Yet, that leaves Detroit’s population dense neighborhoods underserved in favor of “economic development” in Greater Downtown where there are more jobs, more building permits, and more tax incentives.

Read the full brief: Utility Redlining: Inequitable Electric Distribution in the DTE Service Area

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