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Woods Official Questions Wednesday's Power Outage

Grosse Pointe Woods City Administrator Al Fincham said Wednesday that he questions why one downed power line was enough to bring down the entire grid north and east of Mack and Vernier. It is among the many questions he's posing to DTE.

City Administrator Al Fincham said his phone began ringing within minutes of . He immediately touched base with DTE's regional reprentative.

News of the power outage arrived to DTE officials as they were meeting about an upcoming meeting planned for residents, business owners and city officials to provide information about what happened earlier this summer when the area--plagued for years by lengthy outages--lost power for a weekend during dangeroulsy high temperatures, Fincham said.

DTE officials were responsive and in regular contact with Grosse Pointe Woods officials Wednesday, Fincham said, while awaiting the return call to say power had been restored. That call came hours after what Woods officials had been told, however.

Shortly after 3 p.m. as the cause had been determined. The power was not restored until 7 or 8 p.m. because the circuit "would not hold" despite attempts to restore the power, according to a Nixle alert sent out shortly before 8 p.m.

The original cause of the outage was determined to be from tree-trimming in the 1700 block of Hampton that led to a downed power line and took out the grid. Fincham said employees from Grosse Pointe Woods were sent to the scene and confirmed that to be the cause.

Fincham said Wednesday he questions why one downed line caused the entire grid to go out, explaining part of the updates made to the system had supposedly included sectionalizing the grid so such situations would not have as wide of an impact.

"I have concerns about one tree limb putting out the whole grid," Fincham said. "The tree had been condemned and they were taking it down to prevent it from doing exactly what it did."

It is among one of the many questions he has for DTE officials, who have now set a meeting date for Sept. 12 at 7 p.m. in the Grosse Pointe Woods Community Center.

The meeting is expected to shed light on what caused the weekend long outage earlier this summer during the dangerously high temperatures and what is going to be done going forward to fix the infrastructure.

Promises made by DTE officials who appeared before the Woods council following that outage were met with disbelief and irritation by residents and business owners--all of whom along with the council demanded action that will fix the problem rather than excuses from DTE. 

Fincham said his questions also include following up on some that were asked during that meeting, including how much money would be invested in Grosse Pointe Woods in order to provide reliable service.

In the meantime, Fincham and Grosse Pointe Woods Mayor Robert Novitke are heading to the Michigan Public Service Commission Sept. 6 for a meeting to inform the regulatory organization of the ongoing problem involving that particular grid as well as the history for that area.

That meeting was set up following the council meeting in which residents, business owners and council expressed their outrage about the situation.

Fincham said he also invited Grosse Pointe Farms City Manager Shane Reeside and Mayor Jim Farquhar, noting areas of their city that have also been plagued by problems.

Bob Frapples August 30, 2012 at 12:32 PM
"the tree had been condemned"? Haha, never heard it put that way.
Joseph Sucher August 30, 2012 at 02:59 PM
It seems the fist pounding and excessive rhetoric engaged in by the Woods Council was met by a collective ho-hum by DTE. The much touted meeting of DTE reps and GPW residents had not yet occured when the next failure struck. I wonder if any of our tax dollars wasted on the failed SOLYNDRA fiasco entitles us to claim any remaining, unused solar panels. They might come in handy and I don't think they require gas, nor make much noise.
MRSPirateLarz August 30, 2012 at 04:36 PM
Umm, I was under the impression that there was NOT a downed power line, just that the branch touched both exposed, live wires at the same time, closing a circuit and causing the problem. At least that's what the neighbor who had it occur in her backyard told me. So I'm confused.

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