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February 25, 2013 - 12:53pm

Brief power outage affects most of campus


COMM 211 students affected by Monday's power outage take an exam in the Chemistry Building atrium. (Terra Molengraff/Daily)

A power outage left most of campus without power Monday morning.

University Police spokeswoman Diane Brown said it's believed that an outage at a DTE Energy substation caused most of campus to lose electricity at 9:54 a.m. Monday morning. Power gradually returned to buildings shortly after, with many buildings back to power by 10:45 a.m.

Brown said campus is often able to regain power quickly because it has the ability to receive electricity from multiple substations. She said the brief "power bump" that people noticed is likely the process of switching from one power source to another.

Many students reported that fire alarms were activated once power returned to buildings. Brown said this is normal; systems often need to be reset.

Elevators must be reset as well: in the event of a power outage, elevators automatically cease movement and can only be reset by a technician. Brown said this left many individuals momentarily stranded in elevators throughout campus, but most were reset by 10: 45 a.m.

Some instructors canceled early-morning classes, but not all of them: at about 10: 20 a.m., students in the Chemistry Building could be seen taking an exam in the naturally lit atrium.

If power were to be out for a longer period of time, Brown said the University's Central Power Plant has the capability to provide temporary power. On a regular basis, it provides steam power for the heating and cooling of buildings, but it also is able to produce electricity. Brown said this allowed many buildings on campus to retain power during the widespread power outage that left much of the Northeastern and Midwestern United States out of power in August 2003.