11:30 a.m. UPDATE — Approximately 46,850 Consumers Energy electric customers remain without service due to the thunderstorms that swept across the state Thursday. Since early Thursday, more than 104,000 customers have been affected by weather-related outages.
Additional electric line crews – totaling more than 50 men and women, from the utility company Ameren Missouri, are expected in Michigan later today to assist Consumers Energy in restoring power to the hardest hit areas, including Flint and greater Genesee County. Currently, more than 450 Consumers Energy electric line workers and contractors, including crews from Indiana, are working in several parts of central and eastern Michigan to restore power as safely and quickly as possible.
“Catastrophic storms across the Midwest and eastern United States in the last two weeks have limited the ability for other utilities to provide assistance to Consumers Energy,” said Garrick Rochow, the company’s vice president of energy delivery. He added company crews returned Thursday from northern Indiana, where they provided assistance earlier this week to other utilities. “We appreciate all the extra help we are getting from our in-state contractors and crews from Indiana and Missouri. Together, we’re working to get the power restored promptly.”
In addition to the line worker crews, Rochow estimated more than 1,000 Consumers Energy employees are dedicated full-time to the power restoration activity, including those assessing system damage, guarding downed wires and customer call center representatives.
“We know that with the extreme heat, this is a very difficult time for our customers. We appreciate their patience. We encourage citizens to check on the well-being of the elderly and those living alone during this time,” Rochow added.
He also encouraged citizens to take advantage of free, public cooling centers set up across the state by the American Red Cross and local emergency management agencies. Many of the center locations are listed at http://www.consumersenergy.com or by calling 2-1-1 locally.
As of 11 a.m., the approximate numbers of Consumers Energy electric customers remaining without service in the following counties are as follows: Clinton (4,683); Eaton (1,751); Genesee (21,089); Gratiot (1,653); Hillsdale (1,278); Ingham (1,030); Ionia (190); Isabella (326); Jackson (283); Kent (381); Lenawee (118); Livingston (1,535); Montcalm (4,769); Oakland (538); Saginaw (1,347); and Shiawassee (4,752).
A majority of customers without electric service since early Thursday, are expected to be restored by late today. Customers in the hardest hit counties, including Genesee, Ingham and Clinton, as well as areas south and east of Jackson affected by storms Thursday afternoon may not receive electric service until Saturday or Sunday. Estimates will be updated as assessment and repairs continue. Estimates may also be affected by additional thunderstorm activity.
Consumers Energy cautions area residents to avoid touching any downed wires and to report them immediately by calling 1-800-477-5050, or your local law enforcement agency.
Customers who call Consumers Energy to report no power are encouraged to use the utility’s automated reporting option, available at 1-800-477-5050. The service provides restoration information for each substation and circuit, and can be used to report an outage.
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 utility’s electric distribution system. Never use a generator in an enclosed area and never fuel a generator when it is running.
In some cases, the mast which holds the electric service wires to your home or business may have been damaged or torn away. Utility crews will reconnect the wires to your home, but only a licensed electrician can repair or replace a mast or a cable.
Consumers Energy will trim or remove trees interfering with electric restoration activities. Clean-up of debris from tree trimming or removal during a storm emergency is the responsibility of individual property owners.