2017-03-09 / Front Page

High winds leave almost 20,000 without power

Crews from other states helping with more than 300,000 outages throughout Michigan
BY GARY GOULD

GENESEE COUNTY – Sustained high winds and powerful gusts Tuesday and Wednesday have more than 17,247 Consumers Energy customers experiencing an interruption in electric service.

Since Tuesday morning, more than 300,000 customers statewide have been affected by downed trees and power lines due to high winds, some in excess of 60 mph.

As of Thursday morning, Consumer’s representatives estimated some 120,000 households had their power restored.

Because of the storm’s duration and statewide impact, some customers in the worst impacted areas may not have power restored until Sunday, officials said.

“Safety for our customers and employees is our top priority as we work throughout a vast swath of our service territory in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula making repairs to restore customers’ power, repair nearly 3,000 down wires and replace 500 broken utility poles,” said Guy Packard, vice president of energy operations. “All of us at Consumes Energy appreciate our customers’ patience as we commit to working 24/7 until our final customers have their energy restored following this damaging wind storm.”

From lineworkers to damage assessors, wire guards and customer service representatives, more than 1,600 people are engaged in the storm restoration effort. An additional 130 workers are on their way from utilities in Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana to assist the crews in Michigan.

The public is especially reminded to keep these safety items in mind:

  • Stay at least 25 feet away from downed power lines and to call 911 and Consumers Energy at 800-477-5050.
  • Be alert to crews working along roads. Drivers should slow down or stop and wait for oncoming traffic to clear so they safely can go past workers on roadsides.
  • Never use a generator in an attached garage, basement or near any air intakes, and never fuel a generator when it is running. Operating a generator without proper ventilation can create carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless and deadly gas. If using a generator, contact a licensed electrician to ensure that it is properly connected and make certain it is isolated from the company’s electric distribution system.
  • In some cases, the mast which holds the electric service wires to a customer’s home or business may have been damaged or torn away. Crews will reconnect the wires to a home, but only a licensed electrician can repair or replace a mast or a cable.

Gov. Rick Snyder activated the state’s Emergency Operations Center Thursday to closely monitor and share information as increasing reports of storm damage and power outages across the state are becoming available from local communities and utilities.

“As Michiganders are struggling with storm damage and power outages from some of the extreme winds that are blowing through the state, our first priority is the safety and security of residents,” Snyder said. “Utility companies have been spending much of the afternoon just trying to get a handle on how many lines are down and how best to restore power as quickly as possible.”

Initial reports indicate approximately 650,000 electric customers have lost power to homes and businesses across Michigan. Winds diminished overnight and dropped to 15 mph during the day, Thursday, they also are predicting colder temperatures settling in statewide.

“We will be proactively coordinating our state departments and agencies with the utility companies to continuously assess the number of people without electricity and how long it will be until power is restored,” Snyder said. “We also will be coordinating with local communities to see if they have additional needs to help their residents as the temperatures go down.”

The Michigan Public Service Commission and Michigan Agency for Energy have been in regular contact with the utility companies since yesterday when the first storm damages started to occur in the Upper Peninsula.

The Michigan State Police is monitoring the situation closely and collecting damage reports at the operations center in Lansing, while troopers statewide are working to keep residents safe from harm and assist anyone who has encountered a hazard.

The Michigan Public Service Commission and Michigan Agency on Energy urge utility customers to exercise caution when using supplemental home heating sources or portable generators. It also is extremely important to treat all downed power lines as “live,” and assume they still have electricity flowing through them. That means residents should stay clear and call 9-1-1 to report the downed line.  

 

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