ALMONT — School district officials report that DTE Energy has come to the table to discuss ongoing electrical issues and projects are already underway to protect the campus from additional major incidents in the future.
Supt. Dr. William Kalmar said that within the last week, Almont Schools has had two meetings with DTE representatives—one in person with a company representative and a remote gathering with several company officials.
Last month, Almont’s Orchard Primary and Middle schools were damaged by a power surge. DTE has since told the district high winds caused a large tree to fall on power lines. Those lines fell onto a lower line, resulting in the outage and surge. The damage was estimated to be around $125,000.
The buildings were closed to students and staff for several weeks while repair crews struggled to get the necessary parts. Students were able to return to in-person instruction at those buildings on December 9.
Back in 2018, the district experienced a similar surge event but the repair costs totalled about $75,000 which was partially covered by insurance.
A company representative toured the facilities and saw the district’s collection of surge-damaged equipment. He told Almont officials that there was little the school could have done onsite to address a surge of that size.
“He assured me that they will be working with us to compensate us for losses. More importantly, he reiterated that DTE is working to find a way to protect our site from a third major incident. The meeting went well,” Kalmar said.
The remote, multi-person meeting covered several issues, Kalmar reports.
When it comes to working with the school district, the company has pledged to work with SET SEG, the district’s insurance provider, on their claim.
“They offered, as part of the claim, to pay for a site analysis and look for steps we can do to ‘harden’ the campus. Our attorney with SET SEG thinks this is a very important step. I will be following up on this offer immediately,” Kalmar noted.
Over the holiday break, DTE crews will be onsite at the schools to add protection to transformers. This work will require shutting off the power temporarily.
As for DTE’s efforts within the community, Kalmar said they’ll continue inspecting lines to identify areas for tree trimming.