State wants utility improvements following March wind storm response


JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) – More than five months after a devastating wind storm tore through the area, the state of Michigan has released its review of how DTE Energy and Consumers Energy responded to the disaster.

Overall, the state believes the two utilities did a good job of responding to the storm.

But four areas are outlined to work on before the next big disaster strikes.

After high winds plowed through mid-Michigan on March 8, thousands of families waited for days and weeks for power to be restored.

“That was a major storm, and we worked hard to get power on as fast as we could,” said Consumers Energy Spokesperson Brian Wheeler.

Several weeks later, the state announced it was looking into how DTE Energy and Consumers Energy responded to the crisis.

Those findings were just released.

“Both utilities did an exceptional job in terms of being safe and replacing power to everybody,” said Nick Assendelft, Public Information Officer for the Michigan Public Service Commission.

But the Michigan Public Service Commission says there is room for improvement.

Officials want the utilities to update poles and wires, clear trees away from service lines, install more smart meters, and provide more accurate information for outage maps.

“Try to tie it in a little bit better with the state’s emergency operation center so the customers aren’t confused at all by restoration numbers,” Assendelft said.

Consumers Energy says it is working on all of the state’s suggestions, especially when it comes to real-time outage numbers.

“We’re continually looking at how we can provide better information to people. So the new updated meters that we have will allow us to see right away whether people have power or don’t have power. And that’s going to be useful to us,” Wheeler said.

With lessons learned from the March wind storm, Consumers is now trying to get ahead of the next big storm.

“We want to make sure we’re looking where the biggest needs are and the fastest things we can do,” Wheeler said.

The state says it will continue to work with the utility companies to make sure the suggested improvements are made.

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