Power Returns to Downtown Detroit After Widespread Outage


Motown was humming again Tuesday afternoon after utility crews were able to turn the power back on in downtown Detroit following a widespread outage that shut down schools, government buildings and offices for several hours.

Courts halted trials. Confused drivers jammed intersections without working traffic lights. And thousands of people filed out of darkened buildings as emergency crews responded to reports of people trapped in elevators.

The power went out around 10:30 a.m. ET, leaving roughly 100 buildings without electricity, according to the city’s Public Lighting Department. By noon, the problem on the grid had been isolated.

DTE Energy, the power supplier assisting the city, said about 70 percent of customers should had their lights back on by 4 p.m., and full power was restored at 5:15 p.m.

City officials blamed the utility snafu on the aging infrastructure. There were two cable failures that led to the shutdown of the system although the exact cause remains under investigation, said Jerry Norcia, president and COO of DTE Energy. The utility is pouring about $200 million into the city’s system as it aims to take control of the grid from the Public Lighting Department in the next four years.

“There’s been so much neglected for so long. We have a lot to do,” Mayor Mike Duggan said at a news conference.

Officials also dismissed quips on social media that the power failure had to do with filing for bankruptcy last year — and having no money to pay its bills.

“I would say they’re uninformed. It didn’t have anything to do with that,” Duggan told reporters.

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Erik Ortiz

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