Detroit DTE Energy, Michigan’s largest utility provider, knowingly underestimated the number of blackouts on its widely used dashboard, according to a recent interview with a company executive.
Speaking to Detroit NPR’s Eli Newman, after this latest round of wintry weather, the tool’s director of digital experience said the numbers are inconsistent between the company’s dashboard, or “splash page,” and its recently released outage map.
The dashboard only counts the meters that are present. The map calculates those same meters and adds other factors, such as phone calls and field reports, which told DTE that Local 4/ClickOnDetroit is accurate in many cases, despite being higher than the confirmed number of outdoor meters.
“Essentially, there is an assumption, though, that there are counters that don’t connect to the system, because whatever causes the disconnect prevents communication from happening,” Newman said in an interview taped Friday. “Maybe it would be more appropriate to say that there are at least that many outages?”
So you’re right,” said Jackie Robinson, director of digital experience at DTE Energy. “On this splash page, that might be a little low and the map is quite big, right?”
But according to utility analysts, the numbers are a little more low than that. As of Sunday morning, DTE reported that just over 62,000 customers were without power. However, the utility monitoring service is widely used Poweroutage.us Show more than 143,000.
Robinson tried to explain the discrepancies.
“For example, when someone looks at a map, looks at their zip code, and says there are maybe 10,000 outages, is that generally a guess?” Newman said.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a guess,” said Robinson. “It’s a real, educated guess. It’s an expectation.”
“The information system that feeds the map takes information from customer calls, field reports, and customer electric meters and feeds it into an algorithm to predict the outage area,” DTE spokeswoman Cindy Hecht said in a statement Sunday. We show expected outages on a map. For example, if several of your neighbors call out, and some electric meters in the circuit report that they are out, the outage management system may estimate that the entire circuit may be out.
“In many cases this is accurate, but when we get a very large number of outage events, the algorithm can predict an outage in a particular geographic area. We are aware that this can cause confusion and are working to resolve the discrepancy through further calibration of the system.” The data on the outage center (i.e. total outgoing customers) is derived directly from the meters and is the most accurate calculation of the total number of customers without electricity.”
Both analysts, like Poweroutage.us The Michigan Public Service Commission, which oversees DTE, notified the utility that its system numbers did not match. In Michigan, outages must be reported, but there are no requirements on how to do so.
Revelation and interpretation of underreporting Comes as there was a tight check on DTE reliability over two winter storm systems in the past 10 days. The power outage left hundreds of thousands without power, in some cases for more than a week.
State lawmakers have called hearings on how to make the facilities more reliable, and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office has held talks about those hearings, according to a spokesperson.
There have also been calls for more information at the congressional level, with Representatives Elisa Slutkin and Rashida Tlaib calling for answers on Twitter.
is reading: Michigan bill would make DTE, consumers pay customers for every hour of power outage
To pay some of the highest rates in the country (and) that kind of instability still endangers lives,” Taleb wrote, later calling for the utilities to be made a government-controlled corporation. “It is time to change who controls these important services.”
Shortly before the second storm hit, Slutkin said she requested a briefing on energy issues that extend well beyond the recent storms.
“Next week I’m scheduled to be briefed on energy issues in Michigan, and now we’ll have two big storms to discuss, as well as the long-running issues behind them,” Slutkin said.
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