NORTHERN MICHIGAN – An extended period of heavy freezing rain that started in the Grand Rapids area and is moving north has created additional power outages for Consumers Energy customers. With winds expected to increase across northern Michigan, we could see additional outages as the winds battle ice-lined electric wires. The company has also requested another 800 field personnel through mutual assistance to aid in the restoration of our system. Additionally, we have held crews up north who are standing by and ready to assist in the restoration.
As of 11:30 a.m. today, 129,472 customers remain without service after the storm coated power lines with 0.4 inches of ice across West Michigan, with much of the damage in Kent County and metro Grand Rapids.
“Our crews are working extremely hard in tough conditions to restore power across the state. We greatly appreciate our customers’ patience as we continue to battle Mother Nature,” said Guy Packard, Consumers Energy vice president of electric operations. “Our top priority remains safety for both our customers and employees who are affected by this strong winter storm.”
Most of the 129,472 customers affected by the ice storms are expected to be restored by late Sunday for most areas, with crews continuing to work around the clock to get the challenging job done. We will continue to evaluate and update customers in our hardest hit areas with the updated estimated time of restoration.
A half-inch of ice can add as much as 500 pounds of additional weight to trees and power lines, Packard said. As a result, some outages may occur immediately while others occur throughout the day as the weight from ice on top of power lines and trees continues to build from extended precipitation and frigid temperatures. This was the case Wednesday.
Also, as temperatures warm and the ice thaws on trees, additional outages may occur as tree branches brush power lines while springing up to their original position. Weather conditions also impact the speed of restoration, as crews are taking additional precautions to ensure their safety.
From damage assessors to contact center representatives and lineworkers, more than 1,200 Consumers Energy employees and contractors are engaged in the restoration efforts. An additional 100 mutual assistance personnel have arrived from Kentucky to assist with electric restoration work in west Michigan.
Consumers Energy urges the public to keep these tips in mind:
· Stay at least 25 feet away from downed power lines and keep children and pets away. Call 9-1-1 and Consumers Energy at 800-477-5050 to report them.
· Be alert to utility crews working along roads. Drivers should slow down or stop and wait for oncoming traffic to clear so they safely pass workers on roadsides.
· Never use a generator in an attached garage, basement, enclosed patio or near any air intakes. Doing so could cause a generator to produce hazardous levels of carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless and deadly gas.
· 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.
· 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 that 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 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 ConsumersEnergy.com/alerts .