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Power back for Consumers Energy, DTE customers, but some LBWL customers still wait


The lights are back on, and the heat is warming the house, for the roughly 670,000 Consumers Energy and DTE customers who lost electricity from a severe ice storm.

"It was one of the worst storms in our history," says Debra Dodd of Consumers Energy.

Heavy ice brought down hundreds of lines, and in some cases, pulled the poles down with it.

Dodd says customers were patient, understanding and grateful to the line crews, who worked 16-hour days to repair the damage.

"I was up in the Flint area last week, talking to one of the crews, when a pickup truck pulled up and a man brought four hot coffees to the crew.  Another crew said they'd had so many Christmas cookies, they couldn't eat any more."

Dodd says Consumers Energy will do a post-storm assessment, and will be meeting with the Michigan Public Service Commission as well.

Erica Donerson of DTE says an ice storm is harder to deal with than a thunderstorm, and in this case, there was much more ice than usual coating the lines and nearby tree branches. 

Frigid temperatures for much of the week following the storm did not allow the ice to melt.

"Our employees, contractors and lineman actually had to help rebuild portions of the electric system section by section because of the severe damage caused by the ice storm," she says.

But the waiting continues for many customers of Lansing Board of Water and Light. 

The utility has brought in extra crews to help with the restoration, and it will open three customer walk-in centers where people can go to get an update on the effort.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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