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Surge Trouble

Surges when electricity restored fry appliances

PUBLISHED: March 24, 2005

By Tom Watts
Macomb Daily Staff Writer

Macomb Daily photo by David N. Posavetz  

Gary Sweet of Clinton Township holds computer equipment that he said was damaged by a power surge which followed an outage
earlier this month.

Residents and business owners near the border of Clinton Township and St. Clair Shores are complaining that they had electrical
appliances damaged and their lives disrupted by recent power surges following power outages.
DTE Energy officials said that on March 8, 5,000 customers in St. Clair Shores and Clinton Township were without power for up to
three hours in a large residential and business area along Harper Avenue. But when power was restored, many people complained of
computers and appliances being damaged by the electric surge.

Gary Sweet, a resident on Deanhurst Street in Clinton Township, said a surge detector he purchased for $100 did not protect his
computer from the outage.

"I have surge protection on the computer, but the surge still blew out my power supply box," Sweet said Wednesday. "It just fried it.
I heard a big boom when the electricity came back on.

"It just burned up," said Sweet, who paid $45 for a replacement part. "It could have been worse."

Joyce Sharp, whose house is on Lakewood Street in St. Clair Shores, said she was "fortunate" after the power outage because she shut
off all her electrical appliances before the power came back on. She said her son was also lucky. His big-screen television was
protected by a surge protector.

Because a vehicle hit a utility pole causing the power outage, John Austerberry, DTE Energy spokesman, said homeowners' insurance
claims must be submitted, but not to DTE.

"Because the cause of the power outage was not by fault of our equipment, the primary means of recovering costs would be through
home owner's insurance," Austerberry said. "There is another possibility that the driver's auto insurance may cover some damages."

Austerberry said DTE has a claims process in place when company equipment causes damage to property.

"These are going to be powerful surges when electricity is restored," Austerberry said. "The main circuit breaker in homes and
businesses should open and protect the rest of the circuits. I'm not sure if there's anything out of the ordinary in this area."

A similar power outage took place in September 2004, but business owners along Harper Avenue said the outages are becoming
"more frequent."

St. Clair Shores Loyal Order of Moose in Clinton Township has experienced a decade of power outages at its location on Harper,
south of Quinn.

"We've been prone to power outages since we moved here from St. Clair Shores in 1995," said Roger Newman, an administrator with
the club. "We've lost power for a couple hours on many occasions. We'll have to run the customers out after a while -- we'll let them
finish their drinks first. It seems like our lights get dim or flicker on and off every heavy storm."

Newman said the Moose club lost about one hour of business March 8, but safeguards have protected computers and other electrical

"We have a surge suppressor for the computer, so it was no problem this time," he said. "One air conditioner unit is out, though. That
unit has not worked since the power outage. I have an AC guy coming out (today) to tell me what happened."
Electrical Serivce Inc.