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Lansing's mayor orders review of BWL's handling of last month's major power outage

Lansing’s mayor wants an independent review of how the city’s utility handled a major power outage last month.

The Lansing Board of Water and Light has been criticized for the long wait many of its customers had before their electricity was restored after the Dec. 22 ice storm. About 40% of BWL’s customers lost power after the storm. Many had to wait for more than a week to have their lights turned back on.

On Wednesday, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero appointed Michael C. H. McDaniel, a retired brigadier general and Cooley Law School professor, to lead a review team to look at how the utility handled the outage.

“He will bring military precision, a keen analytical mind and deep compassion for our community to this task,” Bernero said in a written statement. “I cannot think of any individual who is more qualified to lead this review.”  

“The team we assemble to perform this analysis will review the full scope of the BWL response to the ice storm for the purpose of making specific recommendations for reforms and improvements,” McDaniel said in a written statement.

Bernero is also asking state utility regulators for help with the review. The Michigan Public Service Commission does not oversee municipal utilities, but plans to cooperate with Bernero’s review team.

Utility officials are conducting their own review, after scathing criticism by many BWL customers. 

BWL officials say they are offering $25 credits to customers who lost power for five days. BWL customers who had to wait longer to get their electricity turned back on would receive an additional $5 a day. The utility also plans to hire more line workers and make other changes to improve its public communications.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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