Data shows Michigan suffers from some of the lengthiest power outages nationwide (2024)

(WXYZ) — Phil Wakeford says in his Westland neighborhood, it doesn’t take much for his home to lose power.

"We’ve been here for nearly 30 years," Wakeford explains. "Every home on my street loses power minimum maybe 6, 7, 8 times per year and the duration typically 2-3 days but it’s been out as long as two weeks before all at once so it makes life a 'lil fun."

Data shows Michigan suffers from some of the lengthiest power outages nationwide (1)

WXYZ

Wakeford says describing the issue as frustrating is an understatement.

According to a new data set published in Nature, Wakeford is far from alone. The data, which tracks power outages county by county in 15 minute intervals spans back to 2014.

According to the data, on the west side of the state Cass County saw an average of 9.6 days without power following a storm. Huron and Alcona counties followed closely behind with an average of more than 5 days without power annually per customer.

In Wayne County, customers saw an average of around 3.4 days without power annually. Compare those figures to the state average of annual outage days of 1.8.

7 News Detroit's partners at Outlier Media first covered the story at the beginning of the month. Journalist Sarah Alvarez says only two other states in the nation had more days without power: Louisiana and Maine.

Data shows Michigan suffers from some of the lengthiest power outages nationwide (2)

Sarah Alvarez/Outlier Media

"We’ve known for several years that Michigan performs more poorly when compared to other Midwest states with similar weather, both when it comes to cost and reliability," said Alvarez. "The answer is really in the grid. Our electricity grid is old and it costs money to keep it up and to improve it and to cut all of the trees that could fall on those wires and take them down and cause power outages."

It's the reason advocates like Keith Cooley with the Citizens Utility Board have been pushing for grid upgrades.

Data shows Michigan suffers from some of the lengthiest power outages nationwide (3)

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"Utility services for the average homeowner here are dismal. DTE has a long way to go in order to be in a place where I think our customers would say we’re doing a good thing," said Cooley.

VIDEO: Hear more from Cooley about the community's feeling toward current rates and service:

Hear more from Keith Cooley with the Citizens Utility Board

Cooley says while Michigan customers are getting less, they're also paying more for the services they use.

"It’s turns out that customers in this area pay 18 cents a kilowatt hour. In Ohio, they pay 10 cents a kilowatt hour. In Illinois, it’s 12. In Indiana, it’s 13 cents," Cooley started. "So, essentially we’re already paying more than we should be for the kind of service we are getting."

Attorney General Dana Nessel says there are steps utility companies should be taking to improve service. Her administration has been heavily involved in conversations revolving around financial reimbursem*nt following outages and the practicality of rate hikes.

Data shows Michigan suffers from some of the lengthiest power outages nationwide (4)

WXYZ

"There's really no incentive for Michigan utilities to have better service performance. As long as they’re making money what do they care about how good their service is. Remember this is a monopoly, regulated monopoly. You don’t get to choose who provides your electricity," said Nessel.

7 News Detroit took those concerns directly to Metro Detroit's energy provider: DTE.

"We do realize last year was a challenging year. We had the ice storm in February, followed by almost concrete type snow. It was incredibly heavy which caused some reliability issues and then we had storms through the summer months that impacted our customers as well," said Brian Calka, the VP of distribution operations at DTE.

He says while extreme weather plays a factor in the number and length of outages, they are working to make upgrades to the grid with a 4 point plan. That plan includes trimming trees regularly, upgrading existing power poles, adding new automated technology and rebuilding substations.

VIDEO: Hear more from Calka about DTE's plan:

Hear more from Brian Calka with DTE

"The broader DTE organization recognizes we have work to do. Our customers deserve better reliability from us as a company and we are 100% committed to providing that type of reliability they expect," Calka said.

Customers say they’re waiting on the day where they see the results come to fruition.

"I would love to speak to them personally about this particular area because it’s a problem and it’s been a problem for like I said almost 30 years," said Wakeford.

Copyright 2024 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Data shows Michigan suffers from some of the lengthiest power outages nationwide (2024)

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