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Posted on Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 10:15 a.m.

Power outage affects U-M campus and 4,000 DTE Energy customers

By Cindy Heflin

Editor's note: This article has been updated with information about the restoration of power.

Power was knocked out for about a half hour to some areas of Ann Arbor Monday morning and to some parts of the University of Michigan Campus.

DTE Energy spokesman Len Singer said about 4,000 customers were affected. The DTE power outage map showed a large area of the north side of the city without power at 10:20 a.m.

Power was restored at 10:26 a.m., Singer said. The cause was a tripped switch in a substation in the area. Such switches trip when there's some kind of overload or problem with the system, preventing further damage.

Diane Brown, University of Michigan Police Department spokeswoman, said the outage, which occurred at 9:54 a.m. was widespread on the campus, though she did not know the complete extent. Some areas were reporting power coming back just after 10 a.m., she said.

Several people were stuck in elevators on campus for a while after the outage occurred. She said that's a common occurrence whenever there's an outage or a power surge. The elevators have to be manually reactivated when that happens, she said.


Outage areas are shown in Red and Yellow on the map.

DTE Energy Map



Tue, Feb 26, 2013 : 2:57 a.m.

Yawn. Another DTE power outage that affects UM's campus and other parts of A2. Someone wake me and then alert me when this is no longer a story.


Tue, Feb 26, 2013 : 2:29 a.m.

So an overload tripped a switch. I wonder how often we can expect recurrences since DTE did not say that it solved the problem forever.

Kai Petainen

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 10:31 p.m.

Blame a squirrel. This happened in 2009 "Most University buildings on the Central and Medical Campuses were left in the dark just after 6 p.m. yesterday when a squirrel shorted a transformer at the University's Central Power Plant, according to Department of Public Safety Spokeswoman Diane Brown."


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 9:44 p.m.

Seems like some neighborhoods have more frequent outages than others. Wires probably need to be buried, but the expense would be very high and the process very disruptive.

Irwin Daniels

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 8:37 p.m.

In my neighborhood we have those "smart meters" - funny that DTE can't tell you how many homes are without power. Why change the power meter when they don't do what you told us they would do?


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 7:56 p.m.

That map is not an accurate representation of every place on campus that lost power, that's for sure.


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 6:27 p.m.

News flash. Sun comes out for a change in Ann Arbor. Finally one beautiful day! Power outage hits Northside caused by a possible overload somewhere. Golly gee whiz Sue, those darn solar panels actually work!


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 6:27 p.m.

Given the location of the outage, I wonder if the solar panel installation had any relationship to the problem...


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 10:39 p.m.

I guess we need to put up some more solar panels and wind turbines so we can keep the power on in winter, eh?


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 5:42 p.m.

For those who doubt that our power reliability id much poorer than in most developed nations, here are the data: The highlights: The SAIDI (system average interruption duration index)and SAIFI (system average interruption frequency index) for a few countries: Germany 23 / 0.5 Italy 58 / 2.2 UK 90 / 0.8 US 240 / 1.5 In other words, in the US, the power goes out on average three times as often as in Germany, and it stays out ten times longer.


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 8:41 p.m.

@Kafka Enjoy your new life in Germany. Pack for moderate weather and socialistic ideologies. But hey, the power reliability is worth it.


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 7:17 p.m.

Go Navy, there is so much wrong with your snarky question that I don't know where to begin. First of all, Germany is the world third-largest economy, much larger than Texas, and so are the UK and Italy. The population density in Germany is comparable to SE Michigan, and so is the weather, in case you wonder. Europe overall is in size comparable to the US, and the power grid in Europe is linked in a similar way as the regional networks are in the US. And most importantly, most outages are caused by local events that are independent of the overall scale of the system. And the numbers for the US seem to be reasnably representative of our situation here - that the average customer experiences 1.5 outages per year and is out of power for three hours per year seems quite credible to me - in fact, the outages I have experienced personally just in the last year have been somewhat above those numbers. Again, I don't see any reason why this can't be fixed


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 6:20 p.m.

Do you have stats for countries larger than the state of Texas?

David Cahill

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 4:41 p.m.

We live on Broadway. Last Thursday I got a broadcast voice mail from DTE saying that our service would be interrupted today (Monday) at 9:00 a.m. for system maintenance work for about 30 minutes. And if weather prevents this on Monday, it would happen on Tuesday at 9:00. Great! It was nice to get advance notice. On Friday I got another voice mail. It said that I may have received a letter or phone call that service would be interrupted on Tuesday (not Monday). It said that due to "delays" the work had been rescheduled for this Thursday at 10:00 a.m. Then, at 9:50 a.m. today, the power went off. It stayed off for exactly 30 minutes. So - was today's outage planned? Or should I expect another outage on Thursday at 10:00?


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 11:14 p.m.

Do you know the boundaries of the area that will get the planned outage? If today's outage wasn't the planned outage, can we count on the planned outage being on Thursday or when?


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 10:59 p.m.

Ravi Shankar said sometimes a sitar is just a sitar.

David Cahill

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 7:54 p.m.

Thanks for checking, Cindy. Coincidences sometimes happen. As Freud said, "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar."


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 5:32 p.m.

We live northwest of the marked outage area and the same thing happened. I suspect the planned outage for Thursday will still happen.

Cindy Heflin

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 5:29 p.m.

Hi David: I did ask DTE if this was a planned outage. Len Singer said no. He didn't seem aware of a planned outage but said this was not one. So the fact the outage occurred after you got these calls seems to be coincidental.


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 4:20 p.m.

I'm sorry, but, what? How many power outages have you personally suffered through over the last year? The grid seems plenty reliable to me. Of course it could be better, but then we'd have to pay for it.


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 11:11 p.m.

A couple of years ago, there were areas north of Plymouth Road that had multiple outages, including one in summer that lasted for about five days in some places. That exceeded the outage time trigger to get compensation. We requested the compensation for one outage that was definitely qualified for it and another that may have been qualified and have still not received compensation. Recently, I received a call that is part of a survey for customer satisfaction and said all I wanted to convey was that we still haven't received compensation promised years ago. It's not a lot of money, but DTW needs to follow the rules. I recommend that anyone who can be affected by such outages have a car charger for cell phones.


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 5:46 p.m.

6? 8?... from a few minutes to 1/2 day xformer fire on State St.... basically reliability sucks.


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 4:16 p.m.

PhillyCheeseSteak says: "Since just about all of UMich's main campus and other areas were affected, it's more like 100,000 if you add students plus employees." Being charitable, this is hyperbole. The map seems to show about a quarter of main campus affected, and none of north campus. And we're told power was restored in about an hour. No grounds for hyst . . . uhhh . . . hyperbole here.

Linda Peck

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 4:05 p.m.

I agree with Kafkaland, how long does this poor service from DTE have to continue? It is time they cleaned up the problems all over town and gave their customers the high quality service they are paying for. Whoever is reading these comments from City Council, please put pressure on DTE to make this happen as soon as possible.


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 3:47 p.m.

From the above story, "DTE Energy spokesman Len Singer said about 4,000 customers appeared to be affected..." Since just about all of UMich's main campus and other areas were affected, it's more like 100,000 if you add students plus employees.


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 6:03 p.m.

It was NOT a campus wide outage. My department is in several buildings on campus, not even half of us lost power.


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 4 p.m.

Actually the U would be the customer. Just like if there are 4 people living in your home, there is still only ONE customer.

Cindy Heflin

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 3:55 p.m.

I don't believe DTE would count every person as a customer. For example, if a business was out of power, that business would be one customer. I'm not exactly sure how U-M would be counted in this equation, but certainly every person would not be a customer.


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 3:44 p.m.

How often do we have to endure this? Ann Arbor is trying to establihs itself as a prime location for high-tech business, and we can't even keep the power on? The performance of the local grid has deteriorated to the point of being an embarassment for a developed country. Perhaps UM and the city / county can get together and urge DTE to invest into their infrastructure to return to a minimum level of performance and reliability?


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 6:18 p.m.

DTE runs a state-granted monopoly. If you don't like the service level, petition your representative. DTE will only operate to the minimum level required.


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 3:59 p.m.

yes the infrastructure in this country is bad, but hyperbole of calling it an embarrassment for a developed country is insane. Have you ever left your bubble? It appears there was no power for under an hour. This happens EVERYWHERE in the world. As I tell my customers all the time, you can have perfection 100% of the time, but you could not afford what would be required to pay for that.


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 3:49 p.m.

Good luck with that. I suspect DTE, at least, considers the current level of performance and reliability to have already met your "minimum level."