New substation, other improvements target power outages in Ferndale

New utility poles awaiting installation.
New utility poles awaiting installation.

If you live in Ferndale, then you’re probably no stranger to aggravating summertime power outages. More recently, you may have noticed the presence of utility trucks or bare utility poles and other equipment stacked along certain streets waiting to be installed. Now we know why.

DTE Energy announced today it’s spending $76 million to boost electrical reliability for more than 30,000 customers in Ferndale, Hazel Park and Troy. The Detroit-based utility says it’s part of an effort that will see it upgrade more than half of its energy grid by 2020.

The project includes construction of two new substations — one in Troy and the other on Hilton Road just south of East Nine Mile in Ferndale. Both should be operational by June 2017, the utility said.

DTE first announced in 2014 that it planned to build a new substation in Ferndale to meet the city’s demand for power and improve reliability. The reason for the delay wasn’t immediately clear. I left a message for a DTE spokeswoman.

Upgrades to power lines and the new substation are intended to help better isolate trouble spots and re-route around damaged areas.

“This will reduce the length of power outages so DTE can get customers’ lives back to normal more quickly following outages,” Heather Rivard, DTE’s vice president of Distribution Operations, said in the release.

Brownout, a Ferndale specialty.

A photo posted by Sven Gustafson (@_treelock) on

Crews in July made power line upgrades in the alley behind my house after a storm-related outage left our neighborhood without power for at least two nights. A shorter outage followed in August.

We’ve had several multi-day outages in recent years, and at least one blackout or brownout in each of every summer going back years. In 2011, 6,000 customers went without power for several days. It got creepy.

Ferndale has a lot of old trees that tend to drop limbs on overhead power lines, so I get it: These things happen. But I’m over it. I’ve had to evacuate the contents of my fridge too many times. I really hope this helps.

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