DTE Energy launches pilot to underground equipment in the Buffalo Charles neighborhood

As extreme weather becomes more frequent, damaging electric power equipment and causing outages, DTE Energy is exploring ways to relocate equipment underground to keep the lights on for customers even during storms.

In the Buffalo-Charles neighborhood of Detroit, DTE is conducting a pilot to determine ways in which power equipment can be buried more affordably and conveniently. In this pilot, DTE is upgrading both electric and our natural gas infrastructure in tandem. By improving both the electric and natural gas infrastructure at the same time, cost efficiencies can be found and crews can reduce disruption to yards, streets and sidewalks.

Once completed, this pilot project will make the delivery of natural gas safer and more sustainable while reducing the impact of storms on our electric system, reducing customer outages.

Undergrounding electric service isn’t new to DTE. Since 1970, DTE has installed its lines underground in all new subdivisions and other construction projects. In fact, one-third of its entire electric infrastructure is underground. However, relocating overhead equipment underground in established neighborhoods can be a challenge. In addition to currently costing nearly six times as much as upgrading the overhead system, repairs can take longer and require that streets and sidewalks be disrupted. Ultimately, the goal is for this pilot to help identify cost-saving strategies and construction efficiencies that will level the playing field and allow more equipment to be relocated underground in the future.

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