DETROIT, MI — Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said Tuesday’s mass power outage to schools, emergency responders and government buildings are a reflection of the city’s past failures, a hiccup on the way to a more stable future.
Duggan said it’s a reminder of “how much we still have to do to restore order.”
“Poor Infrastructure is completely at fault for this,” Duggan said, adding that the city’s self-contained power grid hasn’t “been modernized in decades.”
A cable failure led to a blown and the precautionary shutdown of power to nearly 115 Detroit Public Lighting Department customers, including Detroit Public Schools, police stations, fire stations, the Frank M. Murphy Hall of Justice, Joe Louis Arena, Wayne State University, Coleman A. Young Municipal Center, the People Mover, Detroit Receiving Hospital and Cobo Center among others.
Nearly 75 percent of the power had been restored by 4:30 p.m. Tuesday and officials expected “the vast majority” of the rest to be online by 7 p.m.
Detroit once operated a power plant generating its own power but no longer, says Scott Simons, a spokesman for DTE Energy. There is no longer a need for Detroit to operate its own power grid and Duggan Tuesday outlined the plan to exit the energy business.
Under the Detroit bankruptcy restructuring plan, DTE will assume control over Detroit’s power grid within four years after implementing a $200-million plan to replace and modernize Detroit’s system, which Duggan said is “so far gone that it could not be salvaged.”
DTE is carrying the burden of the cost with plans to install new transformers,cables and substations while rehabilitating portions of the Detroit system that will be incorporated into DTE.
DTE spent the last 18 months inspecting the current power grid’s infrastructure in preparation for the transition.
When Tuesday’s outage struck, people found themselves trapped in elevators, stopped in People Mover cars or sitting in darkened courtrooms and classrooms.
Fire stations lost power, resorted to cell phones for communication and in some cases used generators, which are available at nearly 14 stations, said Detroit Fire Commissioner Edsel Jenkins. Thirty-six stations lost power. In the future, natural gas generators will be installed at all fire stations.
Jenkins said fire crews rescued 8-10 people resulting from the outage.
Although backup generators maintained power at the Detroit dispatch center and Detroit Police Headquarters, at least one precinct’s backup power source failed.
Police Chief James Craig says the officers moved operations temporarily to a neighboring precinct.
As of 2 p.m., a People Mover train remained motionless at a downtown stop near Library and Gratiot.
“There’s just been so much neglect for so long,” Duggan said Tuesday, “and we have a lot to do.
“Every month that goes by, we will be more and more on a more-modern system and the likelihood of this happening will go down, but it’s part of rebuilding the city.”