Crews working 16-hour days to restore power to hundreds of thousands

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Consumers Energy hopes to have power restored to the majority of customers by Saturday night.

Between Tuesday night and Thursday morning, around 370,000 customers lost power in total, Consumers Energy Vice President for Electric Operations Guy Packard said during a conference phone call.

One of the hardest-hit areas was Fremont, Packard said, where almost the entire town lost power. The company has been able to restore a great number of customers in that area and is hoping to have the majority restored by Thursday night.

Around 536 crews are working throughout the state, including contract crews and crews from other states. Those crews are working 16-hour days to restore power.

“We focus on safety,” Packard said, including keeping crews hydrated as Michigan experiences hot, humid weather.

One crew member sustained a minor injury — a cut above his eye — while working, Packard said. The crew member needed stitches, but has since returned to work.

“(The crews are) restoring customers in a very safe and efficient manner,” Packard said. “Those crews will stay on our system until every last customer has their power restored.”

Consumers Energy is hoping to have power restored to the majority of customers by Saturday night, although potential storms Thursday night could knock out power for more customers.

The company is prioritizing some customers over others, like nursing homes, hospitals and customers with medical equipment in their homes. It is also prioritizing substations that are impacting a lot of customers and customers who have been without power the longest.

The storm it one of the 10 largest in the company’s history, Packard said. He noted that over the past seven years, “we’ve seen an increase in the number of days per year where we have continuous days where winds have blown greater than 40 MPH.”

As of about 1:45 p.m. Thursday, about 232,600 Consumers customers across the state were without power. The following counties in West Michigan had more than 100 outages:

  • Allegan County: 13,288
  • Barry County: 4,907
  • Branch County: 11,994
  • Calhoun County: 8,808
  • Ionia County: 2,868
  • Kalamazoo County: 3,381
  • Kent County: 28,268
  • Mecosta County: 4,975
  • Montcalm County: 3,372
  • Muskegon County: 3,533
  • Newaygo County: 4,909
  • Oceana County: 1,520
  • Ottawa County: 5,837
  • St. Joseph County: 6,808
  • Van Buren County: 642

The Indiana Michigan Power outage map shows 422 without power in Berrien County, 345 in Cass County, 5,108 in St. Joseph County, 320 in Van Buren County and 280 in Kalamazoo County.

On the east side of the state, the DTE Energy outage map shows more than 26% of customers, more than 600,000 customers, are without power.

Consumers Energy is giving out ice cream bars and other gifts to customers at the Fremont Farmers’ Market on E. Dayton Street from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., at the Frosty Boy of Cascade on Cascade Road SE from 2:30 p.m. to 4:20 p.m. and at the Dairy Dayz on Blue Star Highway from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. “as (the company’s) way of thanking customers for their patience and cooperation as our crews work as quickly as possible” to restore power to everyone.

Customers who do not have power for more than 120 hours, or five days, can apply for credit on Consumers Energy’s website, the company said. No customer has met that threshold yet.

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