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Stateside Podcast: Michigan's power outage continues

A pine tree with ice surrounding all of its pines and pinecones
Dan Netter
A pine tree in Lansing sits with its needles frozen after an ice storm hit Michigan on Wednesday and Thursday of last week.

Hundreds of thousands of DTE and Consumers Energy customers remain without power nearly five days after an ice storm on Wednesday, February 22. This leaves many without heat during Michigan’s frigid winter temperatures.

This has led to questions over what the reasonable time frame is for restoring power after extreme weather events. Senator Mallory McMorrow, D-Royal Oak, is one of the lawmakers who is asking these questions.

McMorrow said that since the ice storm she has heard a lot from her constituents about the conditions they are facing, and that the situation has become dangerous.

“I got an email from a resident whose neighbor in their eighties was hospitalized with hypothermia,” McMorrow said. “Another resident has had a live wire on fire in their yard for days, making their house uninhabitable.”

McMorrow also noted that Detroit Public Schools still do not have power. She said DTE and Consumers know their infrastructure needs improvement and called it unacceptable that nothing different is being done in the face of frequent extreme weather events.

While she does not doubt that line workers and crews are working hard to repair power lines, McMorrow said something needs to change. She said after the 2019 Polar Vortex, she wanted the Legislature to strengthen the ability of regulatory agencies to look at the Michigan's two energy giants — DTE and Consumers.

Dan Scripps chairs Michigan’s Public Service Commission, which regulates charging rates and service quality of the utility companies in the state. He said he thinks there is a lot of work left for the board and for utility companies, but he also highlighted a 20% reduction in outages in 2022 compared to 2021 and said there are improvements in the length of outages.

He said that the board is looking to “tighten up” technical standards and service quality rules.

“[We are] trying to limit the amount of time people stay without power, ” Scripps said. “Also [we're] looking at increasing the amount that folks get in terms of credits when power stays off, tying that to inflation so it keeps pace.”

Sen. McMorrow said there is no legislation that can be passed right now that would help bring people’s heat back on or turn on their lights. But she hopes that soon there will be action.

“My hope is that soon enough that we are still fresh thinking about this outage, thinking about what people went through,” she said. She said the opportunity to accelerate upgrades of energy infrastructure is one that cannot be passed up.

DTE Energy and Consumers Energy are among Michigan Radio's corporate sponsors.


  • Mallory McMorrow, Democratic Senator from Royal Oak
  • Dan Scripps, Michigan Public Service Commission chair

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Dan Netter joined the Stateside team as an intern in May 2022 and is a senior at Michigan State University studying Journalism and Social Relations & Policy.
Rachel Ishikawa joined Michigan Public in 2020 as a podcast producer. She produced Kids These Days, a limited-run series that launched in the summer of 2020.