Saturday, June 21, 2008

Marathon's Detroit refinery gets go-ahead to expand

And about time too.

From the Detroit Free Press: Marathon refinery gets OK to expand, but concerns expressed

Part of the concerns were of course making sure there were jobs for Detroiters - which was given:
Marathon made concessions to improve pollution controls and help the nearby community, including promises of preferential treatment for Detroit residents.

There are some concerns about increased emissions, but its in an industrial area, the refinery capacity in the US is badly in need of expansion and Michigan and Detroit in particular is in drastic need of more jobs, which this expansion will provide.

Certainly well past time this was approved, and good luck to Marathon on the expansion.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

At long last, Power is restored.

While I was at work, the power was restored to our street sometime after 11:00.

Certainly it has been the longest blackout we've experienced -- from last Sunday afternoon to today.

We're now catching up on cleaning, laundry and hot running water showers.

Of course, they're predicting more storms tomorrow so this may very well be the proverbial calm before the storm.

Maybe I'll go take another shower, just in case.

Day 7 Without Power

Just in case someone took me seriously when I said last one out of Michigan please turn out the lights - you're a wee bit premature, some of us are still here.

We're here, still with no power.

One of our subdivision's resident wags has put up a sign at the entrance to the subdivision.

On one side it reads: We need power.
On the other: Hey DTE you missed us!

On heading out to work this morning, I saw two DTE trucks drive right on past our subdivision. This of course signifies absolutely nothing, but hope springs eternal, especially as laundry piles up.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Day 6 Without Power and more rain to mess it up.

It had to happen.

Apparently due to the minor rain storm we have had this morning, we have a new estimate for power restoration instead of Friday at midnight -- it is now:

Sat Jun 14 23:45:00 EDT 2008

Yet another day. This doth suck.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Day 5 Without Power - The fun wore off long ago

Actually, I got a shower yesterday at a friend's house with power, which beat bathing in the lake. Of course, I now owe said friend a nice bottle of wine, and it is worth it.

Still no power and its a bit of a pain indeed. We've carried a bucket over to a friends house who is on city water and it is functioning so we go back and forth to get enough to flush toilets, do basic cleaning etc.

I can see the commercial now "for just $10 a day you can provide an Oakland County family with running water....."

No computer, no internet of course, which I can live without at home, and lots of difficulties due to no running water supply, which makes you appreciate what you've got and gets some creativity going for shaving, washing and keeping kids and house clean.

On the upside, with no power, you also get more focus on your family, so thats a plus. Abby at 4 is having a little trouble understanding how the generator makes the lights work, and hates the noise, but is dealing with the loss of power well except for at night when she is a bit afraid of the dark.

DTE's Estimate as to restoration is still Friday at 11:45 pm. My mother-in-law arrives on Friday at 5 pm. This will not be pretty.

Another thing I've found that works real well: Compact Fluorescent Bulbs. The CFLs draw much less power and gives basically the equivalent light of a comparable incandescent so the load on the generator is much lower.

For example, the bathroom used to have two 100 watt bulbs, I had changed them out last week after one burnt out with GE CFLs that each take 26 watts and give off essentially the same amount of light, so I save 148 watts that can be used for other things, like powering the fridge and sump pump.

I've installed similar bulbs around the house already and they make a real difference in power loading with a minor difference in lumination. The only issue is they don't work with dimmer switches and we have quite a few of those, like in the kids rooms, so we just set the light low. Very recommended if you have a generator and want to run your lights while saving watts.

Scott of Providentia recommends I check outThe Lehmans non-electric catalog and

Thanks for the tips, Scott, I'll be checking them both out shortly.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Without power for 4 days and the Saga continues

Last Sunday afternoon, a storm came thorough the area.

Not a bad storm, as far as storms go, with winds up to 80 miles per hour accompanied by some wicked rainfall and some thunder and lightning. This was not a real disaster by any stretch of the imagination.

Unfortunately the storm knocked out power to over 273,000 people in the area and as of today at least 160,000 are still without power.

The current estimate from DTE is that my area will get power back on Friday at 11:45 pm. - over 6 days after the storm struck. I'm not too confident of the estimate, given they underestimated those who were out of power by over 100,000 people.

It is certainly not a strong energy transport infrastructure that can be taken out for almost a week by one relatively minor storm. I had hoped the energy infrastructure people had learned from the 2003 blackout (when we were out of power for 5 days) to make infrastructure more resilient, but that doesn't seem to have trickled down to Oakland County.

On the upside: We had a portable generator that we bought after the 2003 outage.

Downside: It is not working 100% and not putting out enough amps to start the well pump for water. One part is putting out the full and proper 12, the other only 6 instead of 12. So we have some light, the fridge and sump pump work but thats about it. This will be fixed.

Upside: overall the food supplies on hand are adequate and no problem getting to stores for additional supplies. Hand sanitizer rocks and baby wipes, of which we have many on hand, have tons of uses especially when there is no water.

The BBQ with its side burner works like a champ for cooking and reheating food.


1. Clear deficiencies in flashlights, our electric lantern (provided as a gift by Lagniappe's Keeper after the 2003 outage) just died when Abby hit the top of it for some 4-year old exuberant reason as yet undetermined -- but certainly without malice aforethought. It was a good lantern but not very resilient we now need another one.

Plus, some flashlights had been hidden by tiny hands so we only had my surefire for awhile to get things going again and to find the other flashlights.

2. Need more hand sanitizer on hand in the emergency box.

3. More stored emergency water, flashlights, and water filter would be good.

4. Need a hand crank radio or such.

5. Need more gasoline on hand. The 7 gallons or so that we had would not be adequate, we semi-occasionally use it to keep it fresh and got caught at a low point below our normally stored 12 gallons.

6. Need more 5 gallon buckets and a funnel.

7. Probably should have a second propane tank on hand for the BBQ.

On the upside this was an opportunity to test and see if we learned anything from the 2003 outage, and it appears we have. Now if we just had water.....