LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – Ambitious goals are in the future for Consumers Energy following last month’s storms that swept through the state and cut the cord for hundreds of thousands of Michiganders, leaving them in the dark for days.
Company officials announced Monday morning, that there won’t be similar situations like that going forward for their customers.
It’s one of their goals outlined in what they call the “Reliability Roadmap,” where they said no customer will be without power for more than 24 hours and no outage will affect more than 100,000 customers.
People who live in some of the hardest hit areas from the storm said they hope officials can live up to their plan, after they endured five days without power.
“This is the longest I’ve seen it out in the past 15-20 years,” Gary Marchal said, who lives in Dimondale.
The homeowner said the storms were some of the worst he’s seen in a while and is glad much of the debris is out of the area.
“Luckily, we had a generator so we faired a lot better than other people,” he added. “A month later, I mean everything is pretty much back to normal.”
Officials with Consumers Energy said weather events like this has become much more common.
“The last decade has brought on increased weather challenges. Our understanding of how the energy we can use can impact the planet has grown exponentially,” Consumers Energy Vice President of Electric Distribution Engineering Chris Laird said.
To help meet their goals, officials are looking to take steps including additional tree trimming, infrastructure upgrades, and updating their power grid.
They added that the 5-year plan also includes an initiative to bury power lines, something they already have a head start on.
“We’ve already started to make plans,” Laird said. “We’ve hired over 350 apprentices that will become qualified journeyman lineman. We’ve hired nearly 100 underground workers that are being trained right now to help us expand the under-grounding portions as we go forward.”
Meanwhile, other officials can’t say for certain if rates will increase.
“I think we’ll have to see how it plays out,” Senior Vice President of Transformation and Engineering for Consumers Energy said. “We have a responsibility when we look at afford-ability for our customers to make sure we’re efficient with the dollars that we have and continue to spend. So, those things will be vetted out.”
Regardless, people said they hope the company can back up their claims.
“They’ve had policies in place for a long time to make sure they can take care of stuff as fast as they can and I think I can see them doing that. But I can also understand people’s frustrations when they don’t get their power when they think they should,” Marchal said.
Officials said there’s currently 8,000 miles of power lines that serve homes and businesses that are underground. With this plan, they hope to increase that number by an additional 5,000 miles.