In an effort to increase local tree trimming resources, DTE Energy is also providing a valuable community service. The company is launching a tree trimming training program for prisoners to help them join the workforce through a $100,000 grant from the DTE Energy Foundation. Tree trimming is important for the reduction of power outages and downed wires. About 800 trimmers live locally, but the workforce needs 1,000-1,300 trimmers. To fill the gap, DTE brings in 200-500 out of state trimmers.
The Michigan Department of Corrections and the International Brotherhood of Electrical workers have come together to train the first 24 tree trimmers. Prisoners will be eligible to join the union and get a tree trimming job once they either serve their sentence or are released on parole.
DTE Energy said they expect to expand to other career paths once they see success with the tree trimming program. These programs are intended to give inmates a second chance that will allow them to be prepared for life after prison.
DTE expects to have 40 trained ex-convicts graduate from this program each year.