Exclusive: DTE to Ramp Up Power for Red Wings Arena, City Demand

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DTE Energy will invest up to $40 million to provide electrical power to meet demand for the upcoming Detroit Red Wings hockey arena to be constructed at I-75 and Woodward, and a neighboring live, work, and entertainment enclave, along with a resurgent central business district and Midtown area.

Over the next two years, the existing Charlotte substation, located just north of the upcoming 18,000-seat hockey arena at 2938 Park Ave., will undergo a major upgrade, while a second substation will be added in Midtown. In the spring, DTE Energy plans to open a substation in southwest Detroit to provide for a future bridge plaza as part of a planned border crossing between the United States and Canada.

“The stadium is one of several projects underway, but also in Midtown you’re seeing a lot of new load (demand),” says Ron May, DTE Energy’s executive vice president of major enterprise projects. “Wayne State University is expanding along with the Detroit Medical Center. We will be transferring customers from the Public Lighting Department system to the modern grid.”

Working with as many Michigan-based contractors and labor providers as possible, May says the utility has already factored in electrical demand for the new M1 Rail line that is under construction along Woodward Avenue. The line, which will run roughly three miles from downtown to New Center and include 13 stations, is scheduled to be operational in 2016.

In general, power produced at a coal, natural gas, or nuclear plant travels over major transmission lines to a station that breaks down the electricity into smaller voltages. Following that, the electricity goes to a substation, where the power is reduced to circuits before being delivered to commercial and residential customers.

May says no two projects are the same; rather existing and future demand is taken into consideration when planning for a new or enhanced substation, which range in cost from $15 million to $20 million. “What we do is look down the road and pre-activate buildings, so we’re planning two years out and more,” May says. “With new commerce, you need new loads.”    

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