DETROIT, Mich. (CBS DETROIT) - DTE Energy announced Monday, effective immediately, it is safely winding down and voluntarily suspending for the time being all non-critical infrastructure and maintenance work as an additional measure to prioritize the health of its employees, customers and communities during the coronavirus outbreak.
This move to keep employees home — in instances other than emergency response to customers — helps to ensure they do not add to the growing spread of the virus and further stress the health care system, equipment and services across the state.
"Today's decision to voluntarily suspend non-critical infrastructure and maintenance work will go a long way to support the health and safety of employees. DTE will continue to reliably deliver the electric and gas service our customers need as this pandemic runs its course," said Jerry Norcia, DTE president and CEO. "We will protect our employees who need to leave their homes to service our customers by ensuring they follow safe practices and utilize protective equipment. DTE is doing its part to mitigate further spread of COVID-19, which will help to protect our customers, communities and highly dedicated health care professionals."
The suspension of work will go unnoticed by most customers. Non-critical work including main renewal, infrastructure construction and home energy consultations will be safely idled and suspended. The company will monitor the developing situation, adjusting daily and weekly, while it continues to staff core operations. Teams will be ready to respond to any emergency event that might occur.
DTE employees will continue to provide power outage restoration, gas leak and downed powerline response to ensure public safety and mitigate power interruptions. Overhead line work and tree trimming operations are other critical services, and vendors in these fields will determine how they may safely remain on the job to help ensure vital work continues.
Customer service specialists will work remotely from home as DTE will continue to respond to customer calls. Also, the company's 5,000 employees who have been working from home for two weeks will continue to staff their functions remotely.
DTE is taking additional health and safety precautions to protect those who continue to serve on the frontlines during this outbreak. Special health screening procedures to prevent virus transmission have been put in place in all control rooms and while FERMI II goes through its planned downtime and maintenance work.
"Addressing the economic and societal impact of COVID-19 will be important in the coming weeks and months. So as DTE ensures reliable delivery of energy, the DTE Energy Foundation has increased support for non-profit organizations in communities across the state to help those in need, especially those individuals who need food and shelter. We live and work in the communities we serve and we care about them deeply," said Norcia.
DTE is also on high alert to help those customers whose lives are being disrupted. As a result, the company is suspending shutoffs for non-payment for customers who are low income eligible through April 5, 2020. This timing could be extended depending on the impact that the virus has on Michigan communities. Those customers enrolled in the Senior Winter Protection Program have had their end dates automatically extended through May 3, 2020 without additional actions required on their part.
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