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FutureStarrMore Than Half a Million Customers Still Without Power in Michigan
More than half a million Michigan customers remain without power due to weather and ice storms. The state's two largest utilities have come under fire from frustrated customers who demand greater accountability and better power restoration efforts.
This week a rare ice storm struck, damaging electricity lines and felling trees and limbs. This cut off power to homes and businesses, closed schools and offices, delayed air travel, and caused car crashes.
Michigan is still without power for more than half a million customers as temperatures plummet, and they are being asked to turn off their electronics and save energy. The state's utilities are working hard to restore service after an ice storm that downed more than 8,000 power lines.
Power outages have caused many to prepare for the long wait until their lights and heat are restored. Some are taking shelter, staying with relatives or friends, or even moving into hotels to keep warm.
Residents will likely need to rely on flashlights and cell phones until their power returns, or use generators for larger appliances like refrigerators. Consumer Energy Media Relation Manager Brian Wheeler emphasizes the importance of staying safe when the lights go out by following a few basic rules in order to avoid injury or harm.
He suggests keeping your refrigerator door closed to keep cool air inside. Furthermore, he advises against using candles as they can pose a fire hazard.
Outages can be especially devastating to people relying on electric medical equipment or devices that must be powered for their safety, such as heart-lung machines and respirators. If you own such items, make sure they're correctly plugged in and have a backup source of power in case of an outage.
Another way to prevent power outages is by making sure all appliances are adequately insulated. Insulating walls, ceiling and windows with adequate insulation can reduce moisture infiltration into your home.
According to Climate Central's analysis, power outages in the US have been on the rise as extreme weather conditions worsen due to climate change and demand for electricity grows. And this trend is expected to continue over the next decade as more households lose access to electricity.
From 2000-2021, researchers discovered that 83% of power outages in the United States were weather-related events. As more severe storms come with higher demand for electricity and weakening infrastructure, supplying it will become even more challenging.
Weather refers to the overall condition of the atmosphere, including temperatures and precipitation. It can change rapidly - sometimes within minutes - affecting things such as air quality, human health, and agriculture.
This week's devastating winter storm in the US brought with it an abundance of ice and heavy snow, leading to power outages for millions of people. Additionally, dozens of accidents on roads closed schools, offices and businesses alike.
On Thursday morning, the National Weather Service issued a warning of potential icy conditions across parts of the Midwest and Northeast. They predicted more than half an inch of ice could accumulate in these regions due to "a severe winter storm" with sleet, freezing rain, snowfall and strong wind gusts.
On Wednesday morning in Michigan, an ice storm knocked out power to more than 400,000 customers and caused extensive damage by downing trees and limbs, as well as creating travel delays. According to the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), there were dozens of car crashes across the state on roads covered in ice.
Southern Michigan counties, such as Jackson and Hillsdale, experienced more than a quarter-inch of ice on power lines - enough to pose an imminent safety threat, according to utility executives.
Residents of Livonia, Michigan were especially worried when their city halls, senior centers, libraries and courts were shuttered. Without access to city halls, senior centers, libraries or courts in their hometown, residents faced a real hardship.
On the west side of Michigan, an ice storm knocked out power to South Huron Valley Waste Water Treatment Plant in Brownstown Township. That facility serves seven communities in southern Wayne County, according to officials.
DTE Energy officials in Detroit estimate that more than 400,000 customers were without power as of Friday afternoon. Some may experience outages that extend into the weekend for some.
Consumers Energy, the state's largest power utility, reported an improvement in outages Thursday morning from over 230,000 at 6 p.m. The company anticipates most customers will have their power restored by Sunday if weather conditions cooperate.
Though the ice storm is behind us, another system expected to bring rain, snow and ice to parts of Michigan this weekend continues to pose a travel hazard. The forecast calls for light to moderate snow through Saturday evening before sunny breaks with seasonal temperatures return by Sunday afternoon in Upper Michigan.
DTE Energy, which serves 2.3 million customers in southeast Michigan with fossil-fuel, hydroelectric pumped storage, nuclear and wind power plants. Furthermore, the company owns and operates distribution substations as well as line transformers.
The utility's price per kilowatt-hour is the second highest in the Great Lakes region, behind only the largest utilities from Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and Ohio. However, its average monthly bill is lower than those of five other major providers.
Wednesday afternoon, Michigan was hit with an ice storm that disrupted power to nearly half its customers. DTE Energy reports that most will have access to electricity by Friday night; the remaining customers should be back online within a few days.
On Detroit's west side, a woman reported her power was still out as of Saturday afternoon. Nevertheless, she has managed to stay connected through a payment plan with DTE and occasional help from social service agencies. Although lucky to avoid being shutoff, the process has been an ordeal.
She's thus searching for ways to reduce her bills and minimize her carbon footprint. One program she has signed up for is DTE Energy's MIGreenPower program, which allows her to attribute up to 100% of her electricity use towards renewable sources like wind or solar.
In addition, the program offers her a $500 rebate for purchasing an electric vehicle.
DTE may have a reputation for being expensive power provider, but they also offer an impressive green energy program to encourage customers to switch to cleaner sources of energy. Their Charging Forward program pays qualified EV drivers for putting their batteries to work and they recently introduced a service allowing those with solar panels on their homes to sell energy directly back to the grid.
As the weather worsens, people must exercise caution around downed power lines. DTE spokesman Lisa Cremonte stresses the importance of staying at least 25 feet away from any downed wire and urges people to contact their utility provider when they observe such an issue so that it can be safely handled.
This week's storm, which hit the state of Michigan with gusts up to 70 mph, caused significant damage by knocking down trees and limbs, cutting power to homes and businesses, as well as closing schools and offices.
It is no shock that Michigan utility companies like DTE and Consumers Energy are facing intense scrutiny this week for their power outages. The Michigan Public Service Commission has ordered a third-party audit of DTE and Consumers to assess how they have enhanced safety and reliability during storms, according to a news release from the regulator.
Due to the recent storm, DTE and Consumers had hundreds of thousands of customers without power. This was because winds were so high and ice built up on power lines and tree branches due to high winds.
Michigan is not used to dealing with storm-related situations, so they have to take extra precautions in the aftermath. Everyone - children and pets included - needs to be safe by staying at least 20 feet away from downed power lines and anything that comes into contact with them, such as puddles of water or fences.
DTE and Consumers are working diligently to restore power as quickly as possible. Furthermore, they have joined forces with nonprofits in an effort to provide assistance to those affected by the outages.
In the meantime, a statewide energy emergency has been declared. This will enable DTE and Consumers to work more efficiently, as well as receive extra assistance when necessary.
The National Weather Service warns that a winter storm is expected to dump heavy amounts of snow and ice across much of the United States, with areas as far north as Wisconsin and east as Michigan seeing up to 8 inches. This will make traveling difficult and lead to power outages as well.
Power outages are most often caused by ice accumulation on poles and trees. Without repairable lines, this ice can create a power loss for hours on end.