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BWL Board Unable To Choose New Leaders

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The board of the Lansing Board of Water and Light had trouble deciding who would lead the utility into the future tonight.

The "nominating committee" selected Commissioner David Price to serve as the next chair of the board on their fourth try.

But 15 votes later, the four members of the committee were unable to choose a vice-chair, so they adjourned their meeting without making a decision.

Price's term on the board is about to end. Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero re-appointed him to the post, but his nomination is being held up by the Lansing City Council.

The board, along with the executives at the Lansing Board of Water and Light, suffered harsh criticism after the utility's response to a December ice storm that left customers in the dark for as long as 10 days.

In hearings and investigations that took place after the storm, the board was faulted for being unaware that BWL's "outage management system" hadn't worked for months. They were also criticized for their lack of background and experience in utilities and utility management. A state commission recommended that future commissioners have such knowledge and experience.

Some members of the committee said they wanted to move in a new direction and get some fresh ideas.

There are only eight members of the board. Six of them were nominated, but they failed to either gain enough support - or, in some cases, the committee didn't vote because no one would second the nomination. A seventh commissioner, Sandra Zerkle, is the current chair of the board. She was not nominated for either position.

Among the commissioners who got shot down: current Vice Chair Dennis Louney, who came to the committee meeting to volunteer for the job.

The full board is scheduled to vote on the nominations at its meeting next month.
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