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A message from Mark Stiers, president & COO, DTE Gas Company

I imagine many of you have read the recent articles in USA Today and the Detroit Free Press regarding the state of natural gas distribution infrastructure in the nation and in Michigan, specifically. While certainly provocative, the articles failed to include some pertinent information. I want to take this opportunity to provide you a more complete and balanced overview of the state and health of DTE's natural gas distribution system.

DTE's top priority is the safety of its customers and employees. We put our best efforts forward in this regard and it shows in our compliance record to all federal and state safety standards as it relates to the integrity of our gas infrastructure. In many cases, we go above and beyond those standards. The Free Press article alludes to an example of this by noting our completion of leak surveys of cast iron main on an annual basis rather than every three years as required by regulators. In fact, this year we decided to conduct a second survey as a prudent response to the harsh winter and associated deep frost.

We are proud of our stellar record of compliance and we continue to move forward with the paced renewal of our distribution infrastructure. Our primary objective is to ensure the safe, reliable and affordable delivery of natural gas to your homes and the homes of your family, neighbors and friends.

In 2011, we embarked on a main renewal program that has replaced 160 miles of distribution main through 2013 and is projected to complete another 80 miles this year. In fact, we are going to be petitioning the Public Service Commission this fall to increase the program, doubling the targeted miles to 160 annually. This, along with our efforts to move meters out of customers' homes, represents an annual investment and commitment of approximately $130 million to the health of our distribution infrastructure.

To be sure, the measure and metrics referred to in both articles are largely accurate. We have been in operation a long time.  As a result, we do have significant amounts of cast iron main in our system. But just reciting these measures without telling the 'rest of the story,' as Paul Harvey would put it, is not appropriate and lacks context.

For example, the Free Press article accurately states that 1,245 hazardous leaks were detected in 2010 through our leak survey process. However, in the context of approximately 15,000 miles of pipeline being surveyed, that equates to a leak every 12 miles.  More importantly, the detection of each of those leaks triggered immediate cessation of the survey and immediate repair.

I write this note to you, so you in turn can assure neighbors, family and friends that DTE Gas continues to hold the safety and integrity of its underground natural gas distribution system as its highest priority.

Proud to be part of the team,