LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Michigan is number four in the country for the most amount of reported outages, according to the Energy Information Administration
But with that many outages is there a root cause to the problem?
Not only does Michigan rank fourth in the total amount of power outages, the Michigan Public Service Commission says outages here last on average three hours, which is longer than most states.
Why is that? One of the power companies says it’s because we are surrounded by the great lakes.
“When you see those winds come in off lake Michigan for example, and sweep across the state that often can lead to the power outages that were dealing with,” said Consumers Energy spokesman Brian Wheeler.
And consumers energy spokesman Brian Wheeler says the other problem is most of our current infrastructure is above ground.
“We have over 90,000 miles of electric lines across the state that mostly is exposed to the elements,” said Wheeler.
Making the switch to underground power lines sounds like an easy fix, but it all comes down to the cost.
“Some estimates suggest if you were going to bury all of the power lines here in Michigan, were talking tens of billions of dollars,” said Wheeler.
But burying power lines isn’t the main solution as it comes with its own set of problems
“If you have power lines that are underground you might have fewer number of outages but in some cases, it can be more complex. Because you have to actually work to identify where that outage is underground. And the process can be a little more inexact,” Wheeler said.
At the end of the day, the ones who suffer are residents of Michigan and to one local business owner from Williamston says he’s tired of the outages because they seem to happen all the time.
“It goes out at least monthly if not weekly doesn’t matter if it’s raining it just kind of goes out. We just kind of got used to it going out,” said business owner Will Long.
With it being such a common problem, Long says it’s taking money directly from his business.
“It hurts you know we sometimes have to close or close early. And that is money out of our pocket that we might be able to make,” said Long.
The good news is Consumers Energy plans on investing $5 billion over the next five years to bury energy lines and repair other power lines.