Detroit Public Schools see 90 percent electric reliability improvement with help from DTE Energy

Students spend more time in the classroom as power outages are reduced

Nov 03, 2015, 14:56 ET from DTE Energy

DETROIT, Nov. 3, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- In the past 12 months, DTE Energy has converted 41 schools formerly served by the Detroit Public Lighting Department (PLD) to its power grid and performed electric maintenance in numerous others in the City of Detroit, improving power reliability across Detroit Public Schools (DPS) by 90 percent and leading to more than 200 additional school days for students in these schools, as compared with the year before the switch to DTE's grid.

Reliable electricity, provided by DTE, is helping to improve the learning environment for DPS and its students, according to DPS officials.

"One of the key elements to improving academic achievement is the time that students spend in the classroom with their teachers," said Darnell Earley, Detroit Public Schools emergency manager. "Nothing can replace that direct interaction. Having DTE Energy prioritize the conversion of DPS schools has, and will continue to help the District ensure that classroom time is maximized and our students and educators can focus on teaching and learning."

During the 2013-2014 school year alone, some schools, such as Bates Academy on Wyoming in Detroit, experienced 10 days of closures due to power outages as a result of being on the PLD grid. Since being converted to DTE's grid, schools have seen far fewer outages in the 2015-16 school year, giving students the opportunity for higher-quality learning.

DTE Energy made Detroit Public Schools a top priority last year when it started the transition of PLD customers to the DTE electric system. Detroit's financial condition prohibited the necessary investments in PLD's electric system in the years leading up to its bankruptcy, creating frequent power outages at schools, traffic signals and other customers on the system.

The conversion of PLD customers to DTE's system was part of the electric company's involvement in the city's historic "Grand Bargain." DTE committed in July 2014 to convert all 115 former PLD customers into the DTE fold, a four-to-seven-year project requiring the installation of miles of wire where theft and vandalism have left many circuits in disrepair.

In addition to Bates Academy, Emerson Elementary, located near Grand River and the Southfield Freeway on Detroit's west side, experienced 19 power outages over the course of four school years, the most of any school in the city preceding DTE's involvement.

DTE's new customers throughout Detroit are already seeing benefits and won't have the same challenges they've experienced in the past, as outages at schools have been shortened from days to minutes, a huge improvement from the past, according to Ron May, DTE Energy executive vice president, Major Enterprise Projects.

"This project demonstrates DTE's commitment to provide reliable and cost-effective electric service to all of our customers," May said. "These achievements, and there are many more to come, are the result of the dedication of our employees to improve the safety and quality of life for our customers."

It's been just over a year since DTE started conversion work on 900 traffic signals and 600 customer sites in Detroit, including schools, police and fire stations, libraries, Wayne State University and Cobo Center. The company continues to make system conversion progress through equipment upgrades, as well as ongoing maintenance on the old PLD system until customers can be converted to the DTE grid. The maintenance allows for back-up power lines to carry electric load, resulting in shorter power outages.

About DTE Energy
DTE Energy (NYSE: DTE) is a Detroit-based diversified energy company involved in the development and management of energy-related businesses and services nationwide.

Its operating units include an electric utility serving 2.1 million customers in Southeastern Michigan and a natural gas utility serving 1.2 million customers in Michigan. The DTE Energy portfolio includes non-utility energy businesses focused on power and industrial projects, natural gas pipelines, gathering and storage, and energy marketing and trading.  As one of Michigan's leading corporate citizens, DTE Energy is a force for growth and prosperity in the 450 Michigan communities it serves in a variety of ways, including philanthropy, volunteerism and economic progress. Information about DTE Energy is available at dteenergy.com, twitter.com/dte_energy and facebook.com/dteenergy.

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