Ice storms, high winds take their toll on electrical service in west-central Michigan | Michigan Farm News

Ice storms, high winds take their toll on electrical service in west-central Michigan

Category: Markets & Weather

by Dennis Rudat | Farm News Media

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Two days of icy storms in western Michigan and winds in excess of 55 mph overnight in that and other parts of the state resulted in over 3,500 downed electric lines. Since the severe weather began Wednesday morning, more than 231,000 customers have lost electric service. As of mid-day Friday, 148,014 customers remained without power.

JACKSON – Portable generators are getting a workout on many parts of west-central Michigan farms, particularly swine and dairy operations. Unfortunately, they may be relying on those generators to power ventilation systems and milking facilities into Monday in the hardest hit areas.

Consumers Energy and about 200 Great Lakes Mutual Assistance crews from eight states will be working throughout the weekend to restore service after an extended severe weather pattern pummeled parts of Michigan.

Two days of icy storms in western and central Michigan counties combined with winds in excess of 55 mph overnight has resulted in over 3,500 downed electric lines. Since the severe weather began Wednesday morning, more than 231,000 customers have lost electric service. As of mid-day Friday, 148,014 customers remained without power.

“We are committed to restoring power as quickly and safely as possible to our neighborhoods across Michigan, and will continue working 24/7 to do so. We remain grateful for our customers’ patience as we continue to assess damage, secure downed lines and make repairs,” said Guy Packard, Consumers Energy vice president of electric operations.

A majority of affected customers are expected to have their service restored by late Sunday. Final restoration for customers in the hardest hit areas may continue into late Monday. The company’s outage map, www.ConsumersEnergy.com/outagemap will be updated throughout the day as damage assessments are made.

Residents are cautioned to be aware of the potential for downed electric lines and to stay at least 25 feet away from the downed wires and report them by calling 9-1-1 and Consumers Energy at 800-477-5050.

Mutual assistance crews from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Tennessee and Oklahoma will be aiding in restoration. These crews are in addition to the more than 1,200 Consumers Energy employees and contractors engaged in the restoration from damage assessors to call center representatives and lineworkers.

Consumers Energy urges the public to keep these important safety tips in mind:

  • Call 2-1-1 if you are looking for help connecting to temporary shelter or other resources that offer assistance in your community. 2-1-1 is a free statewide service.
  • Be alert to utility 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.

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.

  • 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.

Consumers Energy customers can sign up to get outage alerts and restoration times sent to a phone, email or text message, Text ‘REG' to 232273 or visit www.ConsumersEnergy.com/alerts.

Customers can also report an outage, check the status of an outage and get useful tips what to do after a storm by visiting www.ConsumersEnergy.com/OutageCenter.

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A scene that's all-too-familiar for many Michigan dairy farms during the power outages.