We’re all used to coping with Michigan’s changing weather – especially skilled trades workers who often work out of doors all year ‘round. And for those who build electric substations, the weather can be a challenge.

Now DTE Energy has developed a new process to build some substations inside a factory, away from the elements, cutting the time in half from groundbreaking to completion.  It’s similar to how a manufactured home is built inside a factory and then transported to a neighborhood.

On a recent late fall day, a wide load flatbed truck carrying a 55,000-pound substation passed through the streets of Macomb and Oakland counties. The substation traveled from the Sterling Heights facility where it was built, to the Pontiac location where it will energize a new commercial and residential development.  Once on site, a giant crane slowly lifted the skid off the truck and gently set it onto the pad where it will be hooked up to the energy grid by the end of the year.

DTE Energy partnered with ABB, a company that specializes in power grid and other technologies, to help design and assemble the Hood substation, the first of its kind. As part of our effort to support Michigan based businesses, the power transformer, conductors and insulators, circuit breakers and more were all built on a single skid inside the Sterling Heights factory. A typical substation can take up to two years to build. This one took under nine months.

DTE has more than 700 substations on its system to serve about 2.2 million residential, business and industrial customers in Southeast Michigan. Implementing this new, standardized substation program on a technology that’s been around for more than 100 years will allow DTE to meet the needs of a growing economy quickly and efficiently.

“These skid-mounted substations are good assets for DTE when it comes to our industrial customers. This will help our ability to serve them with safe, affordable and reliable energy in a fraction of the amount of the time it has historically taken to build industrial substations,” said Paul Whitman, director, Engineering and Planning. “We’re seeing a lot of industrial and commercial growth in Southeast Michigan. This is an exciting time to upgrade our infrastructure to meet the needs of the 21st century economy.”

The new Hood substation was installed at a pre-existing industrial substation site and will power the Village at Bloomfield – Oakland County, an 87-acre mixed use development set to break ground in Spring 2018.  It has the capacity to deliver enough energy to power up to 10,000 homes and businesses.