“Some estimated restoration times are 3 or more days away.”
“Workers are sitting around in trucks not doing anything.”
“We haven’t even seen any trucks in our neighborhood.”
We hear you. Being without power is a challenge and a frustration. Add on it’s in the middle of winter, or a loved one has a medical need, and it can feel extra frustrating. While we understand, we want you to know that work is being done as quickly and safely as weather conditions allow. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Ice is Heavy – If you are in a location without much snow, you might be wondering what’s causing all the outages. The truth is, it only takes a little bit of ice to make a big impact and take down power lines. In fact, ½ inch of ice increases the weight on branches by 30 times and adds about 500 lbs. (equivalent to the weight of a baby grand piano) to the span of powerlines between two poles. We’ve had over 8,000 downed wires due to this ice storm and fixing the wires and broken poles can take some time.
- Wind is a No Go – While the snow and ice slowed on Thursday, the winds picked up. And restoring power is dangerous enough on a good weather day, we cannot let our crews go up in bucket trucks and trying to repair issues with sustained winds over 35 mph.
- Technology is great. Until it isn’t – There have been some issues with the outage map this storm. While we stress test our technology and try to make sure it is working as expected, sometimes it slows down or stops working under the pressure of tens of thousands of users trying to do the same thing at the same time. When this happens our IT department works quickly to identify and get the issue fixed.
- Crews just sitting around – Did you know that the crews you saw sitting in their trucks, might be doing their job? Our lineworkers get most of the kudos when it comes to restoring power, and while it is well deserved, there are a host of other employees who play a critical role in getting your power restored. One of those roles includes damage assessors. Before we can begin to restore power, we need to understand the issue, the complexity of the fix and what materials will be needed. So, if you see someone “just sitting around” they could be assessing and reporting the damage, they could be crews waiting on the correct materials to make the fix or they could be waiting for another identified issue down the line to be repaired before they can safely do the job. Our crews want your power to be restored just as much as you do!
- Contact 2-1-1 for warming centers – Red Cross is working with 2-1-1 to have warming shelters available to customers while they wait for their power to be restored. To find one in your area call 2-1-1 or search their online database at https://mi211.org/.
It’s important to remember that everything takes a little longer when ice is involved. Imagine trying to do your job, while everything is covered in ice. That seems a little silly and I’m giggling as I imagine my fingers sliding all over the keyboard and navigating my computer mouse covered in ice. But the work our crew does is not a laughing matter, and when everything is covered in ice it takes longer and complicates the task – including the usual simple task of just driving to the outage area, but then accessing the area (which might be in heavily wooded areas or other hard to get to places) can also be a challenge.
Our crews and the entire Consumers Energy team appreciate your patience and understanding, and we are working as quickly and as safely as possible to restore power after this ice storm.