It all started with an unprecedented windstorm in March of 2017. Windspeeds peaked at 68 miles per hour throughout Metro Detroit, leading to 1.1 million outages for DTE Energy customers. Every 30 seconds, an additional 10,000 customers found themselves without power, with some enduring prolonged outages that would last for weeks. The DTE Energy Operations Center became a hive of activity as employees, cramped together, struggled to access computers and the latest system information. Resorting to an antiquated mosaic wall adorned with sticks and magnets, they painstakingly updated the electrical system with each new report. The team toiled for three weeks, enduring 14-hours days, and scrolling countless pages to identify the alarms signaling outages, and finally restored all customers’ connectivity. Post-storm recovery prompted DTE Energy to acknowledge the imperative need for a Control Room upgrade.
In the wake of the Windstorm of 2017, DTE Energy found itself compelled to reassess their System Operations control room, recognizing the urgency for an upgrade to address its outdated infrastructure before the next crisis struck. The operations team, seeking a comprehensive solution to unify the entire electrical system, explored diverse options. It became evident that only Activu possessed the expertise and software platform required for the task at hand. Unrivaled in experience, Activu stood out as the sole contender capable of seamlessly installing large display walls, consolidating crucial information, and integrating DTE Energy’s SCADA, supplied by Primate.
In an instant, DTE Energy achieved full transparency, gaining a comprehensive view of 2.2 million customers. Activu achieved the seamless integration of its platform and Primate Software—placed on five separate video walls, which included the nation’s largest Direct View LED video wall, by physical area, in a control room.
The Control Center has three hubs: System Operation Center (SOC) including Four regional Electric Operations within the SOC, and Systems Grid Network Operation Center (SGNOC), Storm Assessment and Restoration (SAR). This unified system allows DTE Energy to instantly assess the status of electrical lines, access outage maps, and manage resources efficiently. The Planning Department utilizes the display walls to plan outages, and the Storm Restoration Center leverages the system for senior management. Following the project’s success, DTE Energy is replicating the facility in a backup Control Center, which allows teams to instantly change operations to the new venue anytime, with no downtime. The key lesson learned is the importance of planning for future control room needs before an emergency and choosing forward-thinking partners and software that make for a flexible common operating picture.