Power Outage Day 3, update 1

DTE has started giving estimated time-of-restoration again this morning.


23:45 EDT, Thursday, June 12, 2008

For those of you who don’t do 24-hour time, that’s 11:45 PM, Thursday.

Today is Tuesday.

Power has been out since the storm rolled through a bit before 5pm Sunday.

While I understand that there has been extensive storm damage, if you look at DTE’s own outage map, you see that I am in one of the “orange” areas with (as of a few minutes ago) just under 9000 reported outages. You’d think they’d want to concentrate on the areas where they can do the largest amount of good first — that’s what I’d do if I was in charge — but… THURSDAY????

I’m gonna have to buy more gas for the generator…

ETA: Look, I’m from Oklahoma. I know what a line of severe thunderstorms can do to an electrical grid’s infrastructure. Trying to think here… longest I can recall being without electricity from non-tornadic activity was about 3-4 days starting Christmas Morning 1987 when pretty much the entire state of Oklahoma got a nasty, nasty ice storm — like 1″-plus of ice buildup around the Tulsa area where we lived. In June ’74 when the tornado sliced through our neighborhood, I suspect the power was down locally a bit longer than that, but to be fair, most people weren’t actually living in the remains of their houses then, so the need wasn’t quite so immediate. And both of those incidents were in neighborhoods where the feeds to individual houses were underground, not overhead — the problem was the high-voltage mains that FED the underground system go whacked.

This storm line blew through here in about 3-5 minutes — it was long N-S, but thin E-W and moving E at ~50 mph. To be perfectly honest from an engineering standpoint, it *shouldn’t* have caused as big of a problem as it has. Having driven my neighborhood and spotted only one area where lines were actually damaged/down (not counting the sewer lift pump stations, which can be shut off from the grid), and also driven the length of the lines *feeding* my neighborhood and all the way to the substation and finding no other physical issues, I’m baffled by this: fix the short section of damaged lines and TURN THE POWER BACK ON.

And yes, I know from electrical systems. My college engineering internship was at a place that makes steel structures for electrical substations, and I learned there how to read a grid and spot the problem (if any), for the usual 480VAC residential feed (which is what is in my area) up to big 500kVAC cross-country transmission lines.


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