Financial responsibilities from storm damage

LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – Losing electricity was one of the many problems that came with last week’s wind storm.

As many residents learned, costly damages were inflicted on homes and businesses across the area. So the question is, when are you financially responsible for the bill, and when are you not?

“When I first saw the damage, I felt like, oh my god, what am I going to do,” says homeowner Lisa Harkness.

Harkness arrived home after last week’s wind storm to find a tree up-rooted in her front yard. But that wasn’t her biggest problem. Harkness found live electrical wires, dangling, just a few feed from her side door and she says, that’s when the panic set in.

“I thought to myself, how am I going to do this..” says Harkness.

She quickly realized, the mast, holding her electrical cords in place, was just barely hanging on.

“It took everything out, the phone it took out the cable, it took out everything,” says Harkness.

But after calling her utility company, Harkness learned the mast was her responsibility to fix.

“Anything above the meter, is the property of the customer,” says Lansing’s Board of Water and Light Executive Director of Public Affairs, Steve Serkaian.

Serkaian says, a utility company is only in charge of the meter, not the service mask connecting the lines to the pole.

“In order to repair the mast, the customer has to call a licensed electrical contractor,” says Serkaian.

So that’s what Harkness did, and in the end, the electrical damage ended up costing her more than $600. It was a costly lesson, but she now as advice for others.

“Have an electrician that you know, somebody that you can call, and say what would I do, what steps do I take, in the event that a disaster should take out my electrical, and if you can find out those answers in the forefront, it’ll save you from a lot of grief after, after the fact,” says Harkness.

In an effort to ease that financial burden, the BWL offers a payment plan where the utility will pay to hire an electrician upfront, and then you can pay the utility back over several months.

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