By Lonnie Huhman,
Dexter homeowners and businesses had their power switched off for around six hours Saturday, March 16, while repairs were done by energy provider, DTE Energy.
Both city of Dexter and DTE officials said it was due to an emergency repair needed to the substation located on Second Street. This repair required the power to be out, according to the email alert that went out Saturday informing city residents.
DTE spokeswoman Randi Berris said one of the transformers at the substation serving Dexter failed and had to be replaced. There are two transformers at the location and one had been carrying the load, but after an alarm and visual inspection of the failing transformer it was determined for safety reasons and power needs it had to be fixed.
Berris said not attending to the repair could have led to a worse situation, such as a fire or power being out for an even a longer duration of time.
“It’s a very complicated job to replace a 100,000-pound transformer, and the outage was necessary so the crews could work safely inside the substation to remove the old transformer and install the new one,” Berris said by email.
In addition to addressing a needed fix, Berris said, “We took the opportunity also to upgrade the transformer to one with the newest technology. It will be able to carry increased load and support future growth and economic development in Dexter.”
It was such an emergency that the notice of the outage went out just hours before.
“We know that the outage on Saturday was frustrating for customers, and we appreciate their patience. Because this was an emergency situation, we could not wait to complete the work,” Berris said.
Dexter City Manager Courtney Nichols said the city got the word out that afternoon (Saturday, March 16) using its communication methods within about 20 minutes of being notified by DTE.
In an email message Monday afternoon, the city said the problem with the transformer was discovered during an inspection that was done on Saturday morning.
The city said, “Though this was an emergency repair that needed to be done immediately, the City did receive a couple of questions we would like to address. One question was why the work couldn’t be done at night. DTE would not choose to have the power off during the night. This would mean all street lights and traffic signals would be out, creating the potential for issues on the roadways and in dark neighborhoods. Another question is why the work couldn’t have been done during the week. Having the power out during the week impacts even more businesses and would also require the closure of schools.”
“The city understands the frustration of our residents and business owners due to this outage,” the city’s email said. “Unfortunately, as with any provider of essential services, difficult decisions sometimes need to be made to preserve the long-term functionality of the system. The city trusts that DTE did not make this decision lightly, but did so to be proactive in preventing a much larger problem in the future.”
Power went back on at 9 p.m. on March 16, or just a few minutes afterward, for the impacted area.
As of Monday, March 18, there was still a large crew of DTE workers at the substation doing work, but power was still on and they were expected to complete the repair by that night.