Downtown Detroit Power Outage In 2nd Day

downtown detroit Downtown Detroit Power Outage In 2nd DayLights in many buildings in downtown Detroit remained off Sunday as a result of a power outage. Workers with the Detroit Public Lighting Department were working with DTE Energy to restore electricity.

A spokesman for Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, Dan Lijana, said the outage was reported around 7:30 a.m. Saturday.

First estimates said power would be restored by Saturday night, however lights and traffic signals were not working as of 10 a.m. Sunday.

The outage has affected the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center, Cobo Center, and Wayne County Community College’s downtown campus.

Power came back on at Cobo Center Sunday. Detroit Receiving Hospital, which closed its emergency room Saturday, had full power Sunday.

The Detroit Institute of Arts was closed Sunday. The People Mover also was shutdown.

The outage is blamed on a piece of equipment that overheated.

  • Matt S.

    Today Cobo Hall was supposed to host the quarterly Michigan Teacher Test for Certification (MTTC). Over 2,500 prospective teachers and certification hopefuls waited for 2 hours, only to be told the test would be need be re-scheduled. This was the most crucial test-period of the year, as the results from the elementary and secondary certification tests were to fall right in line before the opening of the school year. Educators and college students drove to the 7:15am (and 1 pm) start time from all over our state, including the very western and southern edges of Michigan. So, more than 2,500 educators seeking to be HIGHLY QUALIFIED for next year are having their certificates put on hold!!!!
    By the way, called Ruth to the Rescue, but he must have been sleeping… Would have been good footage, the 2,500 person long line stretching the entirety of the width of the building along the main hallway. Luckily, I snapped a couple photos of the entire line, most people sitting down waiting for the power to come back on…

  • Bob Jenkins

    I especially like the part where Dennis Archer says “THis couldn’t have been predicted” – I expect Dave Bing to come out and say the same thing tomorrow – 10 years later…

    June 14, 2000


    The Detroit Public Lighting Department pulled the plug on parts of the city Tuesday, stalling People Mover cars, halting high-rise elevators, cutting classes and court hearings short and turning major intersections into traffic free-for-alls.

    The outage occurred a day after Detroit Edison warned the department to curb its electrical use because of problems with three lines that feed electricity to the agency.

    Mayor Dennis Archer said the failure was not a result of substandard equipment or negligence. But he couldn’t say whether the malfunction occurred because the city failed to adequately throttle back the power after the first line went out.

    Detroit Edison customers were not affected, although the failure caused a momentary blip to some downtown. So while the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center was completely dark, the office towers that surround it were lit and cooled.

    “How can you predict anything? I wouldn’t have predicted this. It certainly tests your mettle,” Archer said. “I’m very pleased with the manner in which everybody has responded.”

    At 12:44 p.m., the lights and the air-conditioning went out in many parts of Detroit — at police precincts and fire stations, a hospital and public housing high-rises, schools and universities, at Detroit City Airport and in the heart of city government, the Young center.

    Generators flicked the lights back on at Detroit Receiving Hospital, police precincts and fire stations, but many others were without power for hours. Streetlights were also out and while police were dispatched to some busy intersections, motorists were forced to dart across many others. At 10 p.m., only a handful of traffic lights were working on Woodward from Jefferson to Highland Park.

    Thirty feet above downtown, the outage trapped 18 people in two People Mover cars. They were led along the tracks to safety.

    Detroit Edison spokesman Scott Simons said the problem began Monday when one of three electrical cables that feed the Detroit Public Lighting Department failed because of a problem with the city agency’s equipment.

    Edison asked the department to cut down electrical use until repairs had been completed. Although the department scaled back its use, it wasn’t enough to stop a second cable from failing at 12:44 p.m. Tuesday, Simons said.

    Loss of the second cable sent all the electricity through the remaining cable, causing it to shut down because of the overload.

    “Our feeds quit because of the equipment failure,” Simons said.

    Simons said Detroit Edison was helping the city make repairs.

    Archer spokesman Greg Bowens said half of all power had been restored by 9:30 p.m. Tuesday and that the city expected all power to be restored by morning. He said streetlights on major roadways, such as Jefferson and Gratiot, and in older neighborhoods would be the last to be turned back on because they are on the periphery of the system.

    Detroit Public Lighting supplies power to 1,400 facilities, including city buildings, Wayne State University and public housing complexes. It does not supply power to homes and most businesses.

    City Councilman Nicholas Hood III said the outage raises serious questions.

    “Is this an infrastructure problem, or is it a people problem or is this just a construction problem?” Hood asked outside the Young center, after walking down 13 flights of stairs from his office. “We need to find out what happened and why, then we can hold people accountable.”

    Around the city, people and government agencies coped without lights or air-conditioning.

    One of Detroit’s busiest hospitals, Detroit Receiving, was running off generators. To conserve power, hallway lights were dimmed, air-conditioning was turned down, and nonemergency surgeries were canceled. Other hospitals at the medical center, including Children’s Hospital of Michigan, were not affected.

    911 operators had to manually call the city’s 13 police precincts to dispatch officers to emergencies. Officers are usually dispatched via computer that informs the precincts of each run, as well as its priority.

    Passengers attempting to board their planes at Detroit City Airport were searched manually, by hand and by handheld metal detectors. Federal Aviation Administration officials flew in a generator to relieve the backup system that had kept the control tower going.

    Archer worked by sunlight in his 11th-floor office.

    Generators were rolled into the most essential locations, including police precincts and fire stations and four public housing buildings where seniors live, Bowens said. The generators were bought in preparation for Y2K, he said.

    Three people were also trapped in two elevators at the Young center. But the building’s general manager, William Polakowski, says they were rescued within a half-hour.

    Shortly after the outage, Wayne County Jail officials suspended all visitations and locked down all inmates, said sheriff’s spokeswoman Nancy Mouradian.

    Generators brought the lights back on at Wayne State University, but afternoon classes were canceled anyway. Classes were also cut short at nearly all of Detroit’s 263 public schools.

    High school students were sent home early, while parents of younger students were called and asked to pick up their children.

    A spokeswoman said the schools would be open today, if the power is back on.

    At the Young center late Tuesday, Polakowski said things were under control.

    When the lights went out, Polakowski said, shackled prisoners were brought down from a lockup on the 17th floor and people with disabilities were carried to the lobby. One of them was Sharron Rowe, who said four people helped get her down from her eighth-floor office.

    “It was scary,” she said.

    — Stuck in an elevator (long@hot.summer), June 14, 2000.

    • matt

      I totally agree, and IF this was not an accident then DTE made a BIG GOOF and will not admit it, interfering with literally a couple thousand Michigan teachers… channel 7 made it and only would say “an important event was cancelled”… then they even used the word “dozens”… they meant hundreds of people, or even better over a THOUSAND, but maybe played it down so as not to start a major controversy.

      That “important event” was the MTTC tests, the Michigan tests for teacher certification and endorsements, of which the error is just so large… there is just no way it should have happened and DTE is probably denying comment about “what” was happening in the buildings at the time.
      After cancelling the first session at 9am (set to report by 7:15am, start at 8am,) a test that lasts for 4 1/2 hours, they went on to cancel the 2nd 4 1/2 hour test period around 10:00am, set for 1pm start, because they KNEW the power was not coming back on.
      This is really serious, we (teachers) needed to take this test and it was imperative the city hosted the event at Cobo Hall (which has no backup generators??? enough for emergency lighting even to move the 2,500+ people through the test?)

      I’m not kidding about the numbers, look them up on’s website, last year when you add all four daily sessions, over 11,000 people took this test, and that was just for the morning session (i.e. elementary and secondary teaching endorsements). GEEZ OH PETES!!

      no backup generators in a building that size??? I guess if the power went out at the auto show, at least we could turn on all the headlights for people to see their way out!!!!!!

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