Though Ferndale is fully powered up, the West Nine Mile and Dover substation won't be 100 percent repaired until Sunday morning, DTE Energy says.
DTE will be working on the substation throughout today and the night to get it back up to speed, DTE spokesmen Len Singer said. In the meantime, the utility has "jumpered" circuits and brought in a third generator to keep the power going in Ferndale.
Jumpering is, essentially, hooking up customers to another circuit to send electricity to those customers without diverting energy from other customers.
"Everything is up and running," Singer said Saturday afternoon. "We're finalizing repairs on the cable, we've brought in a third generator and everything is working fine."
Some Ferndale residents have reported partial power in their homes. Singer said those are isolated incidents. If customers report their partial service to DTE, workers will be sent to inspect, he said.
The West Nine Mile substation should be up early Sunday morning, Singer said.
"The repairs are moving along nicely. Everything will be repaired by tomorrow morning," he said Saturday. Equipment in the substation and the damaged section of the cable have been replaced, Singer said.
DTE and Ferndale officials had a conference call at 4 p.m. Saturday. DTE officials said Ferndale would continue to have power. They also told officials that a DTE representative would be at the City Council meeting on Monday at 7:30 p.m. to discuss the incident, which DTE attributes to the week's heat wave, which boosted energy demands and put a strain on the system.
"We had great cooperation with the city," Singer said.
"All in all an outstanding job by Ferndale staff, who went way above and beyond the call for our residents, not to mention the DTE field personnel, residents and business owners who contributed, too," Ferndale Mayor Dave Coulter said in an email. "A very challenging but proud episode for Ferndale."
Losing power and patience
Residents and business owners experienced various lengths of outages and losses since power first went out late afternoon Wednesday while some never lost power.
Stacey Jamison's power went out Wednesday. Although she said the outage was difficult, she felt the the situation shed light on how much energy and power American society consumes.
"While we all suffered from this outage and the loss that came with it, we need to think about being more responsible consumers," she said. "Of course, we pay for the service we receive, but I still don't believe that gives us the right to be irresponsible about our energy habits. ... but if everybody sacrifices just a little bit of comfort for the good of all, we may not have to have this discussion again."
Resident Joe Bailey's power also went out Wednesday. He wasn't pleased with DTE's efforts but commended the city and mayor for the work they did throughout the three-day ordeal.
"While I am thrilled to have the power back, I can't help but be angry about the past 50-ish hours," he said. "Blaming the outage on the heat doesn't fly with me. This isn't the first time it's been hot. Plus, it's 2011! Why does it take three days to turn electricity back on for virtually an entire city?"
Emily Murray's business, Modern Natural Baby, was closed for two days because of the outage. "We lost thousands of dollars in sales, not to mention my employees could not work and get paid," she said.
Murray was hit doubly hard because she's also a resident. "As a resident, we lost our power on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. and it came back Friday morning, and that was hard, mostly losing our food," she said. "We lost hundreds of dollars of food. Because I am a business owner and resident of Ferndale, it was really hard, not having anywhere to go on Thursday in 100 degree heat with my son."
Getting the power back on by Saturday was good for her and downtown businesses, she said.
"Saturday is our biggest day, so we are very thankful DTE was able to get the power restored sooner than they thought," she said.
Recap of the outage
Singer said that, initially, a transformer in the substation malfunctioned due to the excessive heat the area was experience. Temperatures were in the 90s for five days and hit 100 degrees in some areas on Thursday.
The outage began on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.
Then it was a domino effect. From the malfunctioned transformer, its cable became damaged. After that transformer went, DTE workers start putting more customers on the second transformer in the substation. That transformer's cable then went down.
"It was mechanical failure of a piece of equipment," Singer said. "The original problem started with that transformer."
By Thursday, when the second cable blew, nearly 6,000 Ferndale customers were without power.
As Friday came around, the number of homes and businesses without power had gotten as low as 800. But it became apparent to DTE that it would have to shut down the substation to fully restore power to Ferndale. At 2:30 a.m. Saturday, DTE shut down the system, cutting power to the majority of Ferndale, somewhere between 6,000 and 7,000 customers.
The shutdown was supposed to last until 8:30 a.m., but by 6 a.m., power to Ferndale was fully restored.