Approximately 44,000 Consumers Energy electric customers are without service due to the winter storm that began early Sunday afternoon. Since that time, more than 195,000 customers have been affected by weather-related outages.
The approximate numbers of Consumers Energy electric customers remaining without service in the following counties are as follows: Branch (5,000); Calhoun (4,500); Hillsdale (8,500); Jackson (500); Kalamazoo (5,500); Lenawee (13,000); Monroe (6,100) and St. Joseph (1,000).
“Because of the significant damage this storm has caused to our electric system, including ice and snow affecting thousands of electric lines, it is taking considerably more time to restore service,” said Garrick Rochow, vice president of energy delivery. “ We are very concerned that our customers remain safe and warm until power can be restored, and are working cooperatively with a number of agencies such as the American Red Cross in the hardest hit southern counties.”
Customers who need shelter should call 211 for a list of available services in their area. Residents who have senior neighbors or those with special needs are also encouraged to check on them during this difficult time.
Utility, line clearing and contract crews, including 120 utility crews from Indiana and Ohio, will continue to restore power throughout the day. A majority of customers without electric service are expected to be restored by late Thursday evening. Customers in the hardest-hit counties, including Branch, Calhoun, Hillsdale, Kalamazoo, Lenawee and Monroe, may not receive electric service until Friday. Estimates will be updated as assessment and repairs continue.
The sunshine may cause ice to melt from power lines and trees, and in some cases, cause additional electric outages. Consumers Energy encourages residents to be aware of falling ice conditions and to use caution.
There are several options you can use to get information on when our crews or contract crews may have power restored to a certain area. You can tell your residents to call 1-800-477-5050 or to check online for an estimated restoration time. By following the instructions, they can get restoration information for their specific circuit and substation as well as report an outage. You can also follow our outage news releases which provide periodic general updates on restoration times and the number of customers without power by county.
Consumers Energy customers also can report power outages and get service restoration estimates by using a smart phone. When customers visit www.consumersenergy.com, they automatically will be connected to the new mobile website. The mobile site works on Blackberry®, Droid, iPhone, Windows®7 mobile devices and other smart phones.
Make it a point to also remind your residents to avoid touching any downed wires and to report them immediately by calling 1-800-477-5050, or local law enforcement. It’s also good to remind them that generators should be installed by a licensed electrician to ensure it is properly connected and isolated from our electric distribution system. This helps protect them and our crews from possible serious injury. A generator should never be used in an enclosed area to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning and never fuel a generator when it is running
After a storm strikes, there are usually questions about who will clean up tree debris after we make repairs to our electric system. Consumers Energy will trim or remove trees interfering with our efforts to complete repairs, but clean up of debris from tree trimming or removal during a storm emergency is the responsibility of individual property owners. If there is damage to the mast which holds the wires bringing electric service to their home, residents should contact a licensed electrician to repair it. Our crews will reconnect the wires to the home, but only a licensed electrician can repair or replace a mast or a cable.
The Consumers Energy Web site offers more safety tips and information on how to prepare for a storm. Feel free to link to these tips from your website or use them in your community newsletter. We also have a downed wire safety message that you can use to inform your residents about the dangers of downed wires.