Polar Vortex 2019: How did Michigan’s energy do?

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – We began 2019 with extremely cold weather here in Michigan, enough to be called the “Polar Vortex 19”.

Because of this, Michigan energy officials released a report figuring out just how well the state’s energy systems responded to this emergency.

Record temperatures dropped below -25 degrees and a wind chill hit -40.

Sally Talberg, the chairman of the Michigan Public Service Commission, says the polar vortex at the beginning of the year took a major toll on our state’s energy.

“It really challenged the system and the governor, and Consumers Energy had to call on customers in Michigan to get them to reduce their natural gas usage to be able to stabilize the system,” said Talberg.

In response, Governor Gretchen Whitmer asked the commission if the state’s electric, natural gas, and propane delivery systems are strong enough to hold up during emergencies like that one.

They concluded Michigan’s systems are sufficient, but they say there’s always room for improvement.

“They include things like upgrades to infrastructure, better maintenance, including tree trimming,” said Talberg.

The commission is also looking for ways to get a better response from people when the state is in an energy emergency, such as when the governor asked everyone to turn their thermostats down to 65 degrees.

“It’s absolutely critical to have reliable, resilient, supplies of energy that powers our economy,” said Talberg. “People need it for safety and well-being, so we really rely on energy and it being there when we need it.”

Talberg says they’d rather take these preventative steps now before another statewide emergency happens.

“It’s important to plan ahead and make sure that we’re adapting our approaches and infrastructure to meet the needs going forward,” said Talberg.

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