Back At Full Power Capacity In Detroit

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, who plays Mr. Eko on ABC's "Lost," attends the show's annual season premiere on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Sept. 30, 2006. Akinnuoye-Agbaje and his castmates play survivors of a plane that tore apart in midair and crashed on a Pacific island.
AP Photo/Lucy Pemoni
Detroit's blackout is coming to an end. Work crews have managed to restore full generating capacity to the municipal electrical system, two days after it failed.

While some buildings remain dark, the stage is being set for full restoration soon, as workers are now sending power through the city's 30 substations one by one. Then the electricity is being slowly routed to sites affected by the outage.

In short, "the source of the problem is now fixed," mayoral spokesman Greg Bowens said.

"You'll know it's all fixed for good when all buildings are juiced up and working properly."

While calling the repairs a long-term fix, Bowens implored users of the reenergized electric system to go easy on usage to avoid immediately overburdening it, saying even the lights in Mayor Dennis Archer's office have been dimmed until the thumbs-up signal comes.

Crews had worked 16-hour shifts and they went door-to-door to restore power to the municipal electric system. Bowens said Thursday he could not immediately say when all of the 4,500 buildings, 87,000 street lights and 1,250 traffic signals affected by the outage would have power again.

"We got out of the prediction business after the first day," Bowens said.

Schools that had been forced closed Wednesday and Thursday because of the outage could reopen Friday, said Stan Childress, a spokesman for the 170,000-student district.

The outage trapped some Motor City residents in the People Mover, which wasn't moving.

The two-day closure will not cause the school year to last longer, given that the district still has four "snow days" left, Childress said. The school year already had been lengthened to June 23 because of a teachers' strike at the start of the school year.

Childress has said the district faced a number of problems because of the outage, including spoiled food and disrupted transportation.

Most homes and businesses in the city get service from Detroit Edison. But hundreds of public agencies rely on the municipal system.

Part of Wayne County Circuit Court reopened Wednesday, but the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice remained without power. Jurors serving in trials at Murphy were told not to report Thursday, court spokeswoman Llenda Jackson-Leslie said.

Wayne County and Detroit Public Schools officials said Wednesday that the ordeal has prompted them to considering getting their power from another source.

"I do not see why the city taxpayers should have a power system that jeopardizes street lighing and that costs more to operate than is necessary," David Adamany, interim Detroit schools chief executive, told the Detroit Free Press.

"And I certainly don't think the public schools, which face very significant budget challenges, should be paying a premium price for unreliable power."

Assistant Wayne County Executive Mary Zuckerman said the county also would reevaluate its reliance on Detroit Public Lighting, partly because of the outage and partly because of new laws that allow electrical customers to choose their electrical supplier.

One of three tie-lines connecting the Public Lighting Department to Detroit Edison power supplies failed Monday. Repairs were under way when a second tie-line failed and, when the remaining line could not handle the load, the city's entire generating system shut down about 12:45 p.m. Tuesday, Archer said.

Wayne State University resumed classes Wednesday evening. Spokesman Jeffrey Stoltman said the university has been "pretty happy" with the Public Lighting Department. Messages left Thursday with Wayne State officials were not immediately returned.

But researchers there estimated the outage ruined $150,000 of DNA samples used in genetics research, The Detroit News reported.

At the Harriet Tubman senior center, whose power was restored Wednesday afternoon, residents had been gathering in the building's only air-conditioned room.

"I'm miserable. My room is like an oven," Elouise Williams, 55, told the News. "Last night was terrible. There was nothing to do except fan myself and smoke cigarettes."

©2000 CBS Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report