GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic in Michigan improve, DTE Energy officials say they are resuming projects they had previously put on hold.
Some of the work requires access to customers’ homes and that has caused some concern.
Steven Maki, a Grand Rapids DTE gas customer, said he was alarmed that a DTE representatives recently demanded access to his home.
“The first thing I thought was ‘this is kind of ridiculous,’” Maki told News 8. “Why right now during the middle of this COVID-19 … and everybody’s locked down?”
Maki said he refused entry to a representative who showed up at his home. At some point, he received a sternly worded message hanging on his door.
“DTE Energy needs access to our equipment in your home,” the message read. “If we do not hear from you after 3 attempts to contact you, DTE will issue a Notice to Terminate Service. You will have 10 days to schedule your appointment or your service will be terminated.”
After a phone call with a DTE representative, Maki said his concerns only worsened.
“I said, “How many homes does this guy go into every day?’ (The DTE representative) said anywhere between 8 and 10 — perfect stranger’s home that might have had the COVID,” Maki said. “He has no idea if any of those people had COVID. They’re all strangers. He didn’t know me from Adam.”
DTE announced in late March that it was suspending noncritical infrastructure work, but now some has resumed.
“As the curve has been flattened, we are starting to resume some work where it is safe to do so,“ Brian Smith, a DTE spokesman, told News 8.
“It’s important for us to get back to work and make sure that our natural gas system remains safe and reliable,” another spokesman, Jonathan Wilson, added.
DTE said the sternly-worded placard placed on Maki’s door shouldn’t have been used. The cards were printed before the pandemic. DTE is not actually terminating service to any customers at this time.
Customers who don’t want DTE workers in their home can simply say so and the work will be delayed until the emergency declaration is lifted.
“That concern is understandable, which is why if any resident is unwilling to allow our crews into their homes, we can hold off on their home,” Wilson said, though he added that the work will have to be done eventually.
DTE sent a letter to homeowners explaining why the work is necessary and explaining the precautions employees will take when entering homes.
Maki would like DTE to hold off on the projects altogether until the emergency orders are lifted.
“Stop,” he said, when asked if he had a message for DTE. “If the governor doesn’t want small businesses opening, they shouldn’t be allowed to open either. They shouldn’t be coming into people’s homes right now.”