Outage Center

Shining a Light on Outages

Ever wonder what causes many outages? Or how we prioritize service restoration? Below you’ll find answers to those questions and more.

Outage Causes

With 2.2 million customers across 7,600 square miles of service area, isolated power outages occur daily. Most often, these disruptions last just a few seconds, but some can be longer, depending upon the cause.

Nationwide, weather-related problems are the chief cause of disruptive power outages. Storms, winds, tree damage, high demand for electricity during periods of high temperatures and high humidity can all affect electrical services. Events like vehicle accidents or small animals contacting power lines can also cause outages.

Momentary Outages
If your digital clocks are flashing 12:00 or if your lights go out for a few seconds, a momentary outage has occurred. Momentary outages are often caused by some type of interference on power lines, such as an animal or tree branch coming in contact with the line.

Our power lines are protected with devices that work somewhat like circuit breakers in your homes wiring. When an incident occurs, the devices isolate the problem, localizing an outage and preventing damage to the line. The device then performs a function similar to resetting a circuit breaker, safely restoring power to the line within moments.

Despite the inconvenience, these brief outages actually prevent more serious power problems.

Sustained Outages
Sustained outages are planned or accidental total losses of power in a localized area of the community. These types of outages usually last more than five minutes.

A sustained outage may be caused by storms, accidents or equipment damage. Sometimes, however, its necessary for us to intentionally interrupt service in order to safely perform equipment repairs and maintenance. We notify customers in advance of a planned interruption whenever possible.

If you use a generator during a sustained outage, please read our tips on Safely Operating Portable Generators.

Minimizing Outages, Maximizing Reliability

Michigan Service Map
All year-round, rain or shine, DTE Energy is working to maintain, repair and improve our electrical system to reduce outages and ensure reliable electric service. This work includes:
  • Trimming trees to avoid interference with power lines and other electrical equipment. Visit the DTE Energy Tree Trimming page to learn more about how we are increasing reliability and safety with our tree maintenance program.
  • Inspecting power lines and other electrical equipment, such as transformers, fuses and regulators, and repairing or replacing equipment as needed.
  • Inspecting utility poles and replacing them as necessary.
  • Adding electrical circuits and substations in rapidly growing areas.
  • Monitoring outages to identify areas experiencing frequent outages. We then analyze the outage cause(s) to determine what can be done to correct the situation. This may include scheduling supplemental tree trimming; adding, repairing, replacing or upgrading electrical equipment; or re-routing power lines. Once this additional work has been completed, we continue to monitor outages and growth in the area to develop additional corrective measures as needed.
Please remember, however, that it is not possible to eliminate all power outages, such as those caused by storms or vehicle accidents.

The Power Restoration Process

Your power outage report is important to us. While we do have equipment installed on our lines that indicates general areas that are without power, we rely on customer outage reports to help pinpoint specific areas without power. Your report helps us determine the full extent of an outage so we can more efficiently restore power.

When you report a power problem online or by phone, your report is fed to our outage management computer system. We use the data from this computer system to help us diagnose the full extent of the outage area, analyze weather conditions, crew availability, extent of damage and other factors to prioritize your outage report. Your report is then routed to our dispatch center, where it is assigned to a line crew for repair.

You can get a restoration estimate online or by phone after you have reported your outage and we have analyzed your outage situation. Estimates may be revised if the problem is more severe than anticipated or we encounter additional problems.

During severe storms, it may take several hours for us to analyze the extent of electric system damage and develop restoration schedules. Again, estimates may be revised if damage is more severe than anticipated or if the weather continues to delay our restoration efforts.

If you've elected to receive restoration estimate updates by automated phone call, email or text message, we will contact you with an updated estimate if your initial estimate changes by more than two hours or if an initial estimate was not immediately available.

Major Storms
In a major storm, our top priority is restoring power to hospitals, nursing care facilities, police and fire stations, communication facilities (radio and television stations), and sanitary pumping facilities. We then focus on restoring power to the remaining households and businesses, starting with electrical circuits where the largest numbers of customers are without power.

Our staff constantly monitors weather conditions, and when severe weather threatens, we mobilize. By the time severe storms arrive, our emergency team is already at work implementing a storm response plan. As soon as weather conditions permit us to safely begin restoration work, such as when the storm subsides, our crews assess the extent of damage and begin restoration. If necessary, we call in line crews from other utilities to help with restoration efforts.

Standard Restoration Sequence

  1. High voltage transmission lines. Serving thousands of customers, these lines deliver power from the power plants to the substations. In the DTE Electric service area, these lines are maintained by the International Transmission Co. (ITC).
  2. DTE Electric Substation equipment. This equipment adjusts the electrical voltage so it can be routed to the main distribution lines.
  3. Main distribution lines. These lines deliver power to large sub-divisions and large businesses.
  4. Local distribution lines. These lines route power to smaller neighbor hoods and local businesses, either overhead (4A) or underground (4B).
  5. Service lines. These lines deliver power to individual customer locations either overhead (5A) or underground (5B).
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Be Prepared
Assemble an emergency kit in advance.

  • Battery-powered radio or television (the news media will provide updates on when electricity will be restored)
  • Flashlights or battery-operated lanterns
  • Extra batteries
  • Candles with holders
  • Matches
  • Bottled water
  • Manual can opener
  • Nonperishable food
  • Disposable plates and utensils
  • Wind-up or battery-powered clock
  • Corded telephone (cordless phones don’t work when the power goes out and your cell phone may not work if cell towers are affected)

Make a List of Emergency Phone Numbers

  • Keep a list of emergency phone numbers handy. Include DTE Energy’s toll-free number, 800.477.4747. Call this number and use our automated system to report power outages or downed wires.
  • You may also report a power problem online from a location that has power or by using mobile.dteenergy.com to report an outage from your mobile device.
Other Preparedness Tips
  • If you use electrically powered life-support equipment, ask your doctor about emergency battery backup systems.
  • Protect sensitive electronic equipment, such as computers, televisions and other devices, with surge suppressors.
  • Make sure you know how to safely reset your circuit breaker or change fuses. Keep extra fuses on hand.
  • If a well is your source for water, plan ahead to determine how you will get drinking water. Store containers of water for cooking and washing.
  • Know how to open your garage door manually if it is equipped with an automatic opener.
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers additional emergency preparedness tips. To learn more visit fema.gov or call 800.480.2520.

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Report Your Outage or Voltage Problem
  • Check your neighborhood. If you are the only one without power, check your circuit breakers or fuses. Reset or replace them as necessary.

  • Report a power outage or downed wire online or call 800.477.4747 and use our automated phone system. Please do not assume we know you are without power or that a line is down.
  • If you have power, but are experiencing low-voltage conditions, shut off motor-driven appliances and equipment to avoid damage. Unplug sensitive electronic devices, such as televisions and computers. Report low-voltage conditions online or by calling 800.477.4747.
  • Stay at least 20 feet away from downed power lines because they may be charged with electricity. Keep children and pets away, too.
  • Now customers can use their iPhone or Android phone to report a power problem using the DTE Energy Mobile App, available free of charge from the Apple Store and Android Market. Customers can report an outage, check on the status of an outage, and view our outage map, all from their smart phones.

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During an Extended Power Outage
Unplug all motor-driven appliances (refrigerators and freezers), heat-producing appliances (stoves, curling irons, etc.) and sensitive electronic equipment (televisions, stereos and computers) to minimize the danger of fire and to prevent an electrical overload when power is restored. Leave one light on so you’ll know when power is restored.

Keep refrigerator, freezer and cooler doors closed as much as possible. If power will be out for a long time, contact a dry ice distributor. Find a local dry ice distributor in your phone book or online at yellowpages.com.

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Get a Restoration Estimate
For a status report on your power outage, get a restoration estimate online or call 800.477.4747 and use our automated system.

During severe storms, it may take several hours for us to analyze the extent of electric system damage and develop restoration schedules. Estimates may be revised if damage is more severe than anticipated or continuing severe weather delays our restoration efforts.

Subscribe to Storm Alerts

Never be caught off guard by severe weather again. Just subscribe to DTE Energy Storm Alerts and we will send you a text or email notifications in advance.

Report a Power Problem

You can always go online to report a power problem or get a restoration estimate. You can also call 800.477.4747 and use our automated phone system to report an outage or get an estimate. What’s more, you can use the DTE Energy Mobile app to report an outage as well as other important features.

How do I report a power problem or check the status of a previously reported problem?
You can report a power outage or get a repair estimate online. You can also call 800.477.4747 and use our automated phone system to report an outage or get an estimate. Additionally, the DTE Energy Mobile App enables you to report outages using your smart phone.
Should I report my power outage or do you already know my power is out?
Never assume we know that your power is out. While we do have equipment installed on our lines that indicate general areas are without power, we rely on customer outage reports to help pinpoint specific areas without power. Your report will help us determine the full extent of an outage and help us more efficiently deploy our crews to restore power.
Who is responsible for repairs to my meter?
DTE Energy is responsible for repairs to the meter itself. We are also responsible for the service drop, which is the line either above ground or underground running from the utility pole to your home. You are responsible for all other additional equipment at the meter location, including the service entrance cable. Contact a licensed electrician to complete any repairs that are your responsibility.
Can I get reimbursed for spoiled food or damage to personal property?
DTE Energy is not legally responsible for damage caused by an act of nature. If you own your home or rent and have renter's insurance, please check with your insurance company to see if your losses are covered by your policy. Visit our Damages and Claims page for more information related to storm damage.
Power lines are down on my street. What should I do?
First, stay at least 20 feet away from the lines, and keep children and pets inside. Assume that all downed power lines are energized and stay away. You can report the downed lines online or call us at 800.477.4747. If you think the downed lines pose an immediate hazard to the public, call 911 or your local emergency police and fire number.
How can I tell if a downed power line is still energized?
Consider all lines to be energized and stay at least 20 feet away. Keep children and pets away, too. Energized wires that have fallen may whip around, spark or arc as they look for a ground, which is either the earth or something connected to the earth, such as a tree or metal fence. However, energized wires that have found their ground may lie silent and still, but are equally dangerous.
Why do my neighbors across the street or around the corner have power and I don't?
There are several possible reasons. Fuses inside your home could have tripped and caused an outage. Tree limbs may have fallen on your service drop, which is the line that runs from the utility pole to your home. Or your neighbors may get their electrical service from another circuit that was not damaged by the storm or was restored earlier than the circuit supplying power to your home.
What happens after I report my outage?
After you report an outage, we create a computerized report of the trouble. The information contained in the trouble report goes into our outage management computer program, which helps us determine the extent of the outage based on your outage report, those from other customers, current weather conditions and other factors. After the extent of the outage is determined, we prioritize your trouble report and send it to our dispatch center for assignment to a line crew for repair.
How does DTE Energy handle all the restoration work after a major storm?
Our staff constantly monitors weather conditions, and when severe weather threatens, we begin mobilizing early on. By the time severe storms reach our area, our emergency team is already at work implementing our storm response plan. As soon as weather conditions permit us to safely begin restoration work, such as when the storm subsides, our crews assess the extent of damage and begin restoration. If necessary, we call in line crews from other utilities to help with restoration efforts.
How do you decide which customers get their power restored first?
Our top priority is restoring power to hospitals, nursing-care facilities, police and fire stations, communication facilities (radio and television stations), and sanitary-pumping facilities. We then focus on restoring power to the remaining households and businesses, starting with electrical circuits where the largest numbers of customers are without power.
How can I find out when my power will be restored?
After a major storm, it takes us several hours to analyze the extent of damage and develop restoration schedules. You can get a restoration estimate online from a location that has power or by using the DTE Energy Mobile App. You may also call 800.477.4747 and use our automated system. Remember that estimates may be revised if damage is more severe than anticipated or continuing severe weather delays our restoration efforts.
A line truck drove through my neighborhood. Why didn’t the crew stop to restore my power?
Getting the power back on for everyone is a structured and detailed process; everything must be done in steps. The line truck you saw may have contained a crew that was assessing the extent of damage. Or the crew may have been repairing the lines serving your street, which must be done before the line going into your home is fixed. Please refrain from stopping our line crews to ask questions or make special requests. Doing so only slows restoration of power for you and your neighbors.
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