Safety

Consumers Energy Restoring Power, Monitoring Michigan River Levels

Posted on April 14, 2014. Filed under: Safety, Electric Safety, Company Operations, Community, Electricity, storm, weather | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Consumers Energy lineworkers restoring power Sunday in the Grand Rapids area.

Consumers Energy lineworkers restoring power Sunday in the Grand Rapids area.

As power restoration work continues from last weekend’s storm, we’re also closely monitoring river levels near several of our hydroelectric plants and working with local emergency management officials to keep local residents apprised of possible flooding.

More than 110,000 electric customers have lost power since Saturday’s thunderstorms and 60 mph winds whipped across the state. As of 11 a.m. Monday about 39,660 customers remained without service.

Most customers without power since Saturday evening should be restored by late tonight. In the Grand Rapids and Muskegon areas, which bore the brunt of Saturday’s rough weather, some customers will not have their power restored until Tuesday.

As of 11:45 a.m., areas most affected by electric interruptions are Genesee (3,353); Gratiot (863); Isabella (1,955); Kent (4,539); Lenawee (1,267) Mecosta (2,423); Midland (3,599); Montcalm (3,760); Muskegon (7,050); Newaygo (1,680) and Shiawassee (4,566).

VIDEO:  How Consumers Energy Restores Power in Michigan

Meanwhile, we’re closely monitoring elevated river levels below Hardy and Croton dams on the Muskegon River in Newaygo County and below Tippy Dam in Manistee due to heavy rains and flooding conditions. The hydroelectric plants are all operating as designed and there is no threat to the dam structures. Consumers Energy owns and operates 13 hydroelectric plants across Michigan, including facilities on the Au Sable and Grand Rivers, which are also being monitored.

More than 100 Consumers Energy and 80 contractor lineworker crews have been working in the storm-damaged areas along with more than 100 Consumers Energy contractor line clearing crews to restore energy service to Michigan communities.
In addition, electric companies in Indiana and Ohio have sent about 40 crews to help restore service to Consumers Energy customers.

Check regularly for updated restoration information at the online outage map, where outages can also be reported and power outage information is available. The online map may be accessed by both computers and mobile devices.

Updated restoration information is also being shared on Consumers Energy’s Facebook page.

Staying Safe During Storms and Severe Weather

  • Stay at least 25 feet away from any downed wires and to report them immediately by calling 9-1-1 or Consumers Energy at 1-800-477-5050. VIDEO: Down Power Line Safety
  • Be alert to crews working along roads. Drivers should slow down or stop and wait for oncoming traffic to clear so they safely can go past workers on roadsides.
  • If using a generator, contact a licensed electrician to ensure that it is properly connected and, for the safety of our line workers, make certain it is isolated from the company’s electric distribution system. Never use a generator in an attached garage, basement or near any air intakes, and never fuel a generator when it is running.
  • 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. Crews will reconnect the wires to a home, but only a licensed electrician can repair or replace a mast or a cable.
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Consumers Energy Preparing for Icy Weather, Power Outages in Lower Michigan

Posted on April 2, 2014. Filed under: Business, Electricity, Safety, storm, weather | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

SevereWeatherTip1As freezing rain and gusty winds blow across Lower Michigan on Thursday and Friday, Consumers Energy is preparing for power outages and sharing tips to help you prepare before, during and after storms strike.

Current weather forecasts call for up to two-tenths of an inch of freezing rain beginning early Thursday morning across much of Lower Michigan, from the Grand Rapids/Lansing area north to U.S. 10.

By early afternoon, temperatures are forecast to rise above freezing, improving conditions. However, early Friday morning, heavier freezing rain is forecast for the northernmost section of the Lower Peninsula, generally from Grayling north, with one-quarter to one-half inch of freezing rain possible.

Temperatures are expected to rise above freezing by late Friday morning. In addition to freezing rain, windy conditions with gusts over 30 mph are expected Thursday and Friday.

Consumers Energy is monitoring the weather and is preparing for possible power outages. Local service centers are staffed and additional company and contractor crews are on standby to quickly respond to any power outages and downed power lines caused by the expected stormy weather.

Some important tips to help you prepare for a storm include:

  • Charge electronic devices such as cell phones, laptop and tablet computers, and have fresh batteries available for items such as flashlights and weather radios. 
  • Have a three-day supply of water and non-perishable food available, and don’t forget a first aid kit or any prescription medication if needed.  
  • During and after a storm, people are advised to stay at least 25 feet from any downed lines and assume that every line is “live” and dangerous. Do not touch anything a power line may be touching, including trees, fences, other debris and puddles.
  • Report any downed wires by calling 9-1-1 or Consumers Energy at 1-800-477-5050.

Additional storm and power outage information is available at our online outage center, www.ConsumersEnergy.com/outage.

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Springing Forward with Safety and Consumers Energy Winter Wrap-Up

Posted on March 28, 2014. Filed under: Company Operations, Electric Safety, History, Natural Gas, Natural Gas Safety, Payment Assistance, Safety, weather | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Click above to watch the video to learn ways to save energy at home.

Click above to watch the video to learn ways to save energy at home.

As we all look forward to warmer weather and getting outdoors, we remind you to dig safely and watch out for overhead wires. Look up and look out for wires, and always call 811 before starting any digging project to mark underground pipes and wires.

Now that we are thinking safety first, here’s a quick look back in our winter wrap-up.

  • One of the coldest winters in a generation caused Michigan homeowners to use 20 percent more natural gas this winter compared to a year ago.
    –  However, the typical Consumers Energy residential customer paid just 10 percent more for natural gas
    –  Consumers Energy prices were down 8 percent from last winter
  • We created the Severe Weather Assistance Team to help Michigan residents concerned about bills
    –  The team made 120,000 calls to customers in less than six weeks
    –  Made payment arrangements with customers, enrolled them in our Budget Plan and provided energy savings tips VIDEO: Ways to Save

“I was blown away at the response from customers!” said Randi Richards, one of our severe weather team members. “People were setting up payment arrangements, and they were telling me what was going on in their lives, how hard this winter has been, and what worked for their budget. They shared how touched they were that we were reaching out to them.”

  •  The majority of meters are being read. VIDEO: Meter Reading
    –  However, the extreme weather has created challenges in physically reaching every one of our 1.8 million natural gas meters
    –  We have increased the number of meter readers we have on the job. They are working extended hours, including weekends

 Resources for Michigan Residents

 Our Work Continues

  • We are preparing for next winter. We will replenish our Michigan underground natural gas storage system, the nation’s fourth-largest
  • Warm weather brings outdoor work – tree trimming and strengthening our gas and electric systems. We’ll be spending $60 million this year, for example, just to upgrade underground gas mains

Working to deliver the energy you need, whenever you need it. That’s our Promise to Michigan.

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Consumers Energy Meter Readers Working Safely For You

Posted on March 19, 2014. Filed under: Company Operations, Safety, weather | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

MeterReadVidMichigan’s historic and dangerously cold winter has reduced the number of meters that our meter readers have been able to safely access and read.

As a result, customers have received estimated bills based on past energy use and weather conditions. VIDEO: Consumers Energy Meter Reading Update

We place a high priority on providing accurate bills for our customers, and working safely is job one every day at Consumers Energy. We want you to know we’re taking multiple steps to reduce the amount of customers who receive estimated bills, including the following:

  1. Meter readers are working extra hours 
  2. We’ve hired more meter readers
  3. We’re prioritizing neighborhoods on routes that were estimated this winter due to dangerous weather
  4. We’ve activated our Severe Weather Assistance Team to assist customers with billing concerns

We’re here to help. If you have a question about your bill or need help with payment plans or other assistance, please call us at 1-800-477-5050. You also can visit www.ConsumersEnergy.com/energyanswers.

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5 Tips from Consumers Energy to Protect Meters from Falling Ice

Posted on March 13, 2014. Filed under: Business, Community, Electric Safety, Natural Gas Safety, Safety, weather | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

IcicleMeterSMJust as snow and ice around electric and natural gas meters can lead to safety concerns, warming temperatures and falling ice create additional hazards.

Consumers Energy gets about 30 reports every year of damaged meters caused by falling ice. Recently, building fires in Walker and near Lansing were sparked when ice fell and broke off a gas meter. Additionally, ice can fall on people, cars and air conditioning units.

Here are 5 tips to help prevent falling ice:

  1. Knock down icicles when they’re still small, if it is safe to do so, to keep them from getting big enough cause damage when they fall
  2. If ice gets to damaging size above meters, consider leaning a sheet of 3/4″ plywood against the wall and over the meters to deflect falling ice away from the meters. Act fast, to limit time spent in that potentially dangerous location under the ice
  3. Do not park or walk under icicles which may fall unexpectedly
  4. Keep down spouts unplugged before winter begins to help prevent the problem of ice forming over meters
  5. Ice dams on roofs/gutters also can be caused by improper insulation and ventilation. For professional advice, select a contractor who participates in the Consumers Energy Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® rebate program
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Consumers Energy Offers 4 Tips to Prepare for a Michigan Winter Storm

Posted on March 11, 2014. Filed under: Business, Community, Company Operations, Electric Safety, Electricity, Safety, storm, weather | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

SevereWeatherTip1With colder temps and more snow headed our way tonight and Wednesday, we’re preparing for power outages and sharing tips to help you before, during and after a Michigan storm strikes.

We’re keeping a close eye on the weather. Local service centers are staffed and additional company and contractor crews are on standby to quickly respond to any power outages and downed power lines caused by the expected stormy weather.

4 Tips to prepare for a storm:

  1. Charge electronic devices such as cell phones, laptops and tablet computers. Have fresh batteries available for items such as flashlights and weather radios
  2. Have a three-day supply of water and non-perishable food available, and don’t forget a first aid kit or any prescription medication if needed
  3. During and after a storm, stay at least 25 feet from any downed lines and assume that every line is “live” and dangerous. Do not touch anything a power line may be touching, including trees, fences, other debris and puddles
  4. Report any downed wires by calling 9-1-1 or Consumers Energy at 1-800-477-5050.

Get more tips at our online outage center and follow us on Facebook and Twitter using #CEOutage. If you lose power, report your outage and get restoration information at 1-800-477-5050 or using our online outage map.

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Seconds to Save: Employees Help Co-worker Survive Heart Attack at Work

Posted on February 26, 2014. Filed under: Events, Safety, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

SecondsToSave

View a firsthand account from those who were there when Chuck had a heart attack at work.

Chuck DeBruler, a 33-year Consumers Energy employee, lives a relatively healthy lifestyle. He’ll opt for a salad over a burger, has perfect cholesterol and has good blood pressure.

So last year when the “heartburn” feeling hit, he didn’t think much of it. He went for a walk to try and shake the funny feeling in his chest until he noticed a pain in his left arm. Shaken, he headed inside to sit down and relax.

“When I started sweating, I knew I was in trouble,” DeBruler said. As he entered the lobby, Security Guard Dick Gonding asked how he was doing.

“You better call 911; I think I might be having a heart attack,” he said. DeBruler doesn’t remember much after that.

Gonding called 911, pulled out the automated external defibrillator (AED) equipment and paged the first responder team, who are trained to administer CPR, first aid and the AED.

Members of the first responder team, Steve Nadeau and Valonda Pinkerton, responded to the page within a minute. They shocked DeBruler’s heart and started CPR. Within four minutes the ambulance arrived. VIDEO: Consumers Energy employees help co-worker survive heart attack

John Russell, President and CEO, later presented Nadeau and Pinkerton with the company’s highest honor, the Meritorious Service Award.

Co-workers became friends and heroes that day. “My two guardian angels responded,” recalled DeBruler, “I am here today because of them. They will always have a special place in the hearts of me and my family.”

DeBruler suffered sudden cardiac arrest due to a fully blocked left anterior descending (LAD) artery, also known as the “widow maker.” The doctor said the chance of survival for such blockages is 4 percent.

DeBruler believes he is alive today because of Consumers Energy’s emphasis on safety. “I was with the right people, at the right place, at the right time,” he said. If he had stayed out in the parking lot or attempted to drive home, the outcome might have been different.

“My life was saved because the company always puts safety first and invests time and money in equipment and training,” DeBruler said.

Thank you to the medical responders, Blackman Township EMTs and all those who saved Chuck’s life.

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Consumers Energy Urging Michiganders to Prepare for Stormy Weather

Posted on February 19, 2014. Filed under: Business, Electric Safety, Electricity, Safety, storm, weather | Tags: , , , , , , , |

SevereWeatherTip1With freezing rain, high winds and colder temps forecast for Thursday into Friday, Consumers Energy crews are preparing for power outages and we’re sharing tips to help customers weather a Michigan storm.

We’re keeping a close watch on the weather. Local service centers are staffed and additional company and contractor crews are on standby to quickly respond to any power outages and downed power lines caused by the expected stormy weather.

Tips to prepare for a storm:

  • Charge electronic devices such as cell phones and laptop and tablet computers, and have fresh batteries available for items such as flashlights and weather radios
  • Have a three-day supply of water and non-perishable food available, and don’t forget a first aid kit or any prescription medication if needed
  • During and after a storm, stay at least 25 feet from any downed lines and assume that every line is “live” and dangerous. Do not touch anything a power line may be touching, including trees, fences, other debris and puddles
  • Report any downed wires by calling 9-1-1 or Consumers Energy at 1-800-477-5050.

Get more tips and at our online outage center and follow us on Facebook and Twitter using #CEOutage. If you lose power, report your outage and get restoration information at 1-800-477-5050 or using our online outage map.

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9 Tips to Manage Bills, Stay Safe This Winter

Posted on January 16, 2014. Filed under: Electric Safety, Energy Efficiency, Events, Natural Gas, Natural Gas Safety, Safety, storm, weather | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

ProgrammableTstatWith the recent record cold temperatures in Michigan, here are 9 tips to help Consumers Energy customers manage bills and stay safe this winter heating season. 

  1. Take free and low-cost steps to reduce heating costs. Homeowners should have their furnace inspected each year to make sure it’s running efficiently and to replace the furnace filter often. Customers can also see savings of up to 20 percent when using a programmable thermostat. Learn more at www.ConsumersEnergy.com/save.
  2. Sign up for Consumers Energy’s Budget Plan, which spreads out annual energy costs into equal monthly payments. For more information, go to www.ConsumersEnergy.com/budgetplan.
  3. Assistance is available to help people pay bills. The CARE program is available based on income, from $17,235 for an individual up to $59,445 for a household of eight. People can enroll in CARE through February by contacting one of three partner agencies: The Heat and Warmth Fund (877) 646-2818, The Salvation Army at sawmni.org/cecare or TrueNorth Community Services (800) 379-0221. CARE territory map
  4. Winter storms and cold weather have led to an increase in estimated meter reads. Estimates are based on past energy usage and recent weather data. If you receive a statement based on an estimated reading, your actual usage will be reconciled with the next actual meter reading. If you have questions, call 1-800-477-5050.
  5. In the event of a service interruption, never use a cooking stove, oven or gas-fired space heater to heat a home because they can cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
  6. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a toxic gas that is colorless, odorless, tasteless and can be produced when appliances aren’t operating or vented properly. The best defense against CO poisoning is to install an alarm.
  7. Keep supplemental heaters away from curtains, bedspreads or anything flammable. Unplug heaters before going to bed or leaving home.
  8. Keep natural gas appliance and high efficiency furnace air intake valves and exhaust pipes free of snow and ice by carefully removing it by hand.
  9. Keep meters free of ice, snow and icicle buildup to prevent service interruptions. Mobile home customers are advised to safely clear snow away from rooftop chimneys, preferably by using a snow rake so that furnaces can continue to operate properly.
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Be Safe Around Hydro Dams and Michigan Rivers This Winter

Posted on January 14, 2014. Filed under: Community, Electric Generation, Electric Safety, Electricity, Renewable Energy, Safety, weather | Tags: , , , , , |

5channelswinterWe encourage our Michigan neighbors to be very careful when visiting areas near our 13 hydroelectric generating plants located on the Manistee, Muskegon, Au Sable, Kalamazoo and Grand Rivers.

In particular, watch for thin ice upstream and downstream of the dams. Ice conditions on the reservoirs next to these hydro plants can change rapidly due to unpredictable weather.

Water currents at a hydroelectric plant can be hazardous in winter, when a reservoir may or may not be covered with ice. Ice near a dam is not reliable and should be avoided by snowmobilers, anglers and anyone else.

Ice-covered water downriver from a hydroelectric facility should also be considered very dangerous, and is never a safe place to walk.

Built between 1906 and 1935, our hydros are an important contributor to renewable energy in Michigan and have a combined generating capacity of approximately 130 megawatts, which is enough to serve about 70,000 people.

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