DTE Energy partners with a prison to teach inmates line clearance tree trimming

Facing a shortage of skilled laborers, DTE Energy has partnered with Parnall Correctional Facility to teach inmates how to clear trees from power lines.

The program, a partnership with DTE Energy and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 17 Union, was announced during a press conference inside the prison on Tuesday, July 9. Inmates demonstrated climbing techniques after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, DTE Energy Executive Chairman Gerry Anderson and others spoke about how the program will help the state.

“It not only benefits individuals who participate but it makes sure that people who went through the criminal justice system don’t return,” Whitmer said. “These initiatives are good for our state and our community but most importantly, for our men and women.”

Inmates who complete the program and leave prison on parole can be a part of the union and join a local tree-trim supplier. DTE needs 1,300 tree trimmers to keep power lines clear but faces a shortage of skilled employees, according to company officials.

It will take inmates about six to nine months to complete the Line Clearance and Tree Trim Program. The goal is to have about 40 inmates a year go through it, Anderson said.