Restoration Pace Picks Up as Ice Storm Recovery Continues; 5 a.m. Update
Jackson, Mich. Wednesday, December 25, 2013
Good progress was made overnight by crews helping Consumers Energy recover from a devastating ice storm which left nearly 320,000 customers in the dark last weekend.
As of 5 a.m. Wednesday, approximately 129,000 customers were without power. In all, the storm caused more than 318,000 outages, or more than 17 percent of the utility’s 1.8 million electric customers. It is the company’s largest Christmas-week storm in its 126-year history and its largest ice storm in more than 10 years.
“We will continue staffing around the clock until restoration is complete,” said Mary Palkovich, Consumers Energy’s vice president of energy delivery. “We know this has been difficult on our customers. We thank them for their patience and understanding and we thank the men and women who are spending Christmas away from their families to get the lights back on across Lower Michigan.”
More than 2,900 field and office employees from Consumers Energy, Michigan-based contractors and workers from 11 states and Washington, D.C. are focused on the storm restoration. Most of the out-of-state crews have arrived and all should be at work on the Consumers Energy system today.
As of 5 a.m., areas most affected by electric interruptions were: Allegan (1,257); Barry (14,458); Calhoun (3,988); Clinton (8,579); Eaton (11,745); Genesee (44,968); Gratiot (398); Ingham (13,870); Ionia (3,153); Kalamazoo (1,130); Kent (1,958); Livingston (2,800); Montcalm (256); Oakland (2,759) and Shiawassee (17,351).
Consumers Energy cautions residents to stay at least 25 feet away from any downed wires and to report them immediately by calling 9-1-1 or Consumers Energy at 1-800-477-5050.
The public also should be alert to utility crews working along roads, and drivers should take extra precautions in those situations. In particular, drivers should slow down or stop and wait for oncoming traffic to clear so they safely can go past utility workers and equipment on roadsides. In addition, especially in the greater Flint and Lansing areas, drivers should approach intersections with non-working traffic lights or railroad crossing signals with extra caution.
Customers who call Consumers Energy to report a power outage are encouraged to use the utility’s automated reporting option, available at 1-800-477-5050. The service provides restoration information for each substation and circuit, and can be used to report an outage.
Outages can also be reported and restoration information obtained via Consumers Energy’s online outage map, at www.ConsumersEnergy.com/outagemap. The outage map may be accessed by both computers and mobile devices. Additional storm and power outage information is available at Consumers Energy’s online outage center, www.ConsumersEnergy.com/outage. As damage assessment results are collected, estimated restoration times may be updated.
Currently, the estimated power restoration schedule for the hardest hit areas is:
Today: Northern Kent County;
Thursday: Allegan, Ionia, Gratiot, eastern and western Kent counties, including greater Grand Rapids, and Montcalm County;
Friday: Calhoun, Kalamazoo and Montcalm counties and portions of Allegan and Ionia counties;
Saturday: Some portions of Barry, Clinton, Eaton, Genesee, Ingham, Livingston, Ottawa, Oakland and Shiawassee counties.
Restoration times may be affected by additional storm activity and additional damage. Because temperatures have remained below freezing, ice remains on trees and electrical equipment, causing additional damage and power outages in some areas.
Customers who lose electricity for an extended period of time can dial 2-1-1 to receive emergency shelter information or to request assistance. Before going to a shelter, residents are asked to contact their local emergency management office to confirm the availability of services. A link to warming shelters currently operated by the American Red Cross is available at http://app.redcross.org/nss-app/ or by clicking on the “warming shelters” link within the top screen banner at www.ConsumersEnergy.com.
Individuals are encouraged to check on elderly neighbors and family members who have limited mobility to see if they need assistance. Please do not call 9-1-1 or 2-1-1 for power restoration estimates.
If using a generator, contact a licensed electrician to ensure that it is properly connected and, for the safety of our line workers and first responders, make certain it is isolated from the utility’s electric distribution system. Never use a generator in an attached garage, basement or near any air intakes, and never fuel a generator when it is running. People should never use ovens, propane grills, etc. to heat their homes, for risk of potentially fatal carbon monoxide poisoning. Purchasing carbon monoxide detectors is strongly recommended.
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. Utility crews will reconnect the wires to a home, but only a licensed electrician can repair or replace a mast or a cable.
Consumers Energy will trim or remove trees interfering with electric restoration activities. Once safe to do so, clean-up of debris from tree trimming or removal during a storm emergency is the responsibility of individual property owners.
Consumers Energy, Michigan’s largest utility, is the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), providing natural gas and electricity to 6.6 million of the state’s 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.
For more information regarding Consumers Energy, go to: www.ConsumersEnergy.com or join us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/consumersenergymichigan
Media Contacts: Roger Morgenstern, 616/530 4364 or Debra Dodd, 517/545-8711
PLEASE NOTE: The next storm update will be at approximately 4:30 p.m. Wednesday