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BWL Community Review Team Report Shows Serious Lack Of Communication

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(WLNS) - If you live in mid-Michigan you'll never forget the ice storm that left much of greater Lansing in the dark for up to 10 days.

It sparked a protest about Lansing’s utility and on Monday a 75 page report was released detailing where the BWL went wrong and how it can improve.

Among the findings were: the lack of a comprehensive emergency plan, calling BWL’s planning “disjointed.” Also, a total lack of communication with local governments outside of Lansing and barely any with Lansing’s emergency operation center. The report says BWL was "not forth-coming" because the utility didn't keep records or wouldn't hand them over deeming them too "sensitive."

If they'd done everything right the report says people "could have had" their power back-on earlier, possibly by as much as two or three days.

6 News Nick Perreault went through the report and talked to the man who put it together.

Mike McDaniel said even today he's still mind-boggled with the lack of communication during the outages and lack of information the utility provided to the review team.

But the real question now, McDaniel says is will they learn from the harsh lessons of those outages.

Mike McDaniel says the Lansing Board of Water and Light may have had a system in place when the power went out in December.

"When that system failed on about the second or third day, they didn't have a backup to that,” said Mike McDaniel, Community Review Team Leader.
Which McDaniel says led to BWL not having communication with the city of Lansing for three days.

"You've got to prepare a bench, you've got to do that with your spotters and your line workers and you've got to do that with management.” That didn't happen and crews did not act soon enough, says McDaniel.

That’s something that this leader feels BWL can do by taking a more regional approach with the tri-counties and surrounding cities.
"This is a utility that has learned and will continue learning to make it a better utility,” said Peter Lark, BWL, General Manager/CEO.

Lark says since December they've worked with 18 trimming crews with outages, instead of five.
Their call center can now handle over 30,000 calls and they've changed to their website dramatically.

"A customer really only has to take a look at what's happened over the last few months, seeing is believing and it's there, a completely different BWL.”

Lark will continue to review the team's recommendations to make it a better utility, but residents will have to see if they hold true the next time their lights go out.

From the mayor and the review team to Lark and the BWL board of commissioners, they say this lengthy report is a good start to improve service for BWL customers.

Click to read the report: BWL Community Review Team Report - May 5, 2014
 
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