Consumers Energy: Storm Restoration Work Wrapping Up

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consumers workersJACKSON, Mich. —  Power has been restored  to more than 300,000 homes and businesses left in the dark after Sunday and Monday’s severe weather, and most remaining customers are expected to have their lights back on by late tonight.

“We’ll continue working around the clock until we complete the storm restoration work,” said Mary Palkovich, vice president of energy delivery for the utility. “We believe most customers still without service will be back on by midnight tonight.  For the harder hit areas, including Allegan, Barry, Calhoun, Genesee, Ingham, Jackson, Kalamazoo and Shiawassee counties, we expect restoration work to be complete late Friday.”

“We know this has been a difficult week for these valued customers and we appreciate your patience during this challenging time,” Palkovich continued.

Since noon Sunday, more than 334,000 homes and businesses, or more than 18 percent of Consumers Energy’s customers, have been affected by severe weather and high winds.

As of 11:15 a.m. Thursday, 11,800 customers remained without power.

The 1,800 field workers from Consumers Energy and eight other states – Oklahoma, South Carolina, North Carolina, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland and Ohio – are part of more than 2,600 office and field personnel dedicated to the storm restoration effort. In terms of customer outages, this is Consumers Energy’s largest storm in more than five years. In June 2008, storms interrupted power to nearly 380,000 customers.

As of 11:15 a.m. Thursday areas most affected by electric interruptions were: Allegan (780), Barry (590), Calhoun (1,754), Clare (150), Eaton (740), Genesee (1,828), Hillsdale (392), Ingham (357), Iosco (280), Jackson (271), Kalamazoo (1,238), Kent (163), Livingston (159), Midland (568) and Shiawassee (1,555). Updated outage information is available at www.ConsumersEnergy.com/outagemap  and clicking the “County Outage View” option.

The public is reminded that there may still be downed wires and to remain vigilant and safe. Consumers Energy cautions residents to stay at least 25 feet away from any downed wires and to report them immediately by calling 1-800-477-5050 or their local law enforcement agency. The utility also reminds customers to be alert to utility crews working along roads and urges drivers to take extra precautions in those situations.  In particular, drivers should slow down or stop and wait for oncoming traffic to clear so they safely can go past utility workers and equipment on roadsides. In addition, with the Michigan firearm deer season underway, hunters are encouraged to use extreme caution while in wooded areas, to be aware of any possible downed wires.

Customers who lose electricity for an extended period of time may want to investigate if public shelters are available. In most counties, residents can dial 2-1-1 to receive shelter information or to request assistance. Before going to a shelter, residents are asked to contact their local emergency management office to confirm the availability of services.  Individuals are encouraged to check on elderly neighbors and family members who have limited mobility to see if they need assistance. With colder temperatures and some local shelters scheduled to close, customers are reminded not to heat their homes by unsafe methods such as gas ovens and outdoor grills.

If using a generator, contact a licensed electrician to ensure that it is properly connected and, for the safety of lineworkers, make certain it is isolated from the utility’s electric distribution system.  Never use a generator in an enclosed area or near any air intakes, and never fuel a generator when it is running. An improperly vented generator can create deadly carbon monoxide, an odorless colorless gas, within a dwelling.

In some cases, the mast which holds the electric service wires to a customer’s home or business may have been damaged or torn away.  Utility crews will reconnect the wires to a home, but only a licensed electrician can repair or replace a mast or a cable.

Consumers Energy will trim or remove trees interfering with electric restoration activities.  Once safe to do so, clean-up of debris from tree trimming or removal during a storm emergency is the responsibility of individual property owners.

Updated outage information is available via Consumers Energy’s online outage map, at www.ConsumersEnergy.com/outagemap. The outage map may be accessed by both computers and mobile devices and can also be used for reporting a power outage. Additional storm and power outage information is available at Consumers Energy’s newly updated online outage center, www.ConsumersEnergy.com/outage.

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