Wednesday, February 4, 2015

We Energies employees, mobile substation rescue Escanaba

Thanks to the concern and quick action of our employees at the Wolverine Service Center in Iron Mountain, Michigan, the power is back on in Escanaba, following a significant fault on a city-owned distribution substation that occurred in the early morning hours of Feb. 2, taking nearly one-third of the city’s customers out of power.

Our employees, concerned about the customers of the neighboring utility, responded by coordinating the loan of a portable substation to the City of Escanaba Electric Department until permanent repairs can be made to its facilities.

“Even though we don’t serve them, we placed ourselves in those customers’ shoes,” said John Estes, senior service manager at Wolverine, who coordinated much of the activity between the city, American Transmission Company and the engineering contractors. “There was extensive damage to the substation, and the city had instituted rolling blackouts to serve customers – many of whom rely on electric service for their heat. So, we reached out to the city utility.”

We contacted the City of Escanaba Electric Department later in the morning with the offer of the mobile substation, which includes the transformer, circuit breaker and control equipment. Led by Electric Operations’ Richard Larson, senior engineer; Jeff Michaud, operations manager; Jim Tefft, operations supervisors, and Power Generations’ Dan Wrock, supervisor, about a dozen of our employees worked 16 hours to connect, test and put the substation into service. Thanks to their concern and quick action, customers were out of power for just more than 24 hours.

The mobile substation on the trailer (to the left of the poles) helped avoid a much longer power outage for many of the municipal utility customers in Escanaba, Michigan.

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