While crews on the ground continue working into the evening to restore power in the hardest hit areas of the state, they’re getting a big assist from our eyes in the sky. 

Following this week’s storm, our Consumers Energy helicopter crew has been flying above the heaviest hit areas of the state, identifying downed wires and damage to poles high above the ground that may otherwise take time to find. They send this information to crews in real time, which means faster restoration times for our customers. 

“Our helicopter is one of many tools in our restoration toolkit,” said Tommy Webb, senior engineer tech analyst and a member of our helicopter crew. He took to the skies above Kalamazoo, Ludington and West Branch on Wednesday, along with Ryder Boss, a contractor out of Traverse City.  

“We use it to get a bird’s eye view of problems our crews on the ground might not be able to see. Then they can get to work restoring power faster.” 

With fallen trees or broken limbs a leading cause of outages, the helicopter crew also helps identify areas where tree trimming might be necessary.  

While the crew is an important part of the team bringing our Reliability Roadmap to life, they are far from alone. We have many people behind the scenes putting new technology into place that we could only dream of a decade ago. 

We have about 30 licensed drone operators who also help inspect our lines, including 400 miles of lines the helicopter crew can’t get to for a variety of reasons, primarily in urban areas.  

Webb said while it’s challenging dealing with the unknown things Mother Nature sends his way, the job has its perks. 

“It’s a really cool job,” he said. “But one that requires attention to detail and focus, that at times, can be super serious, intense and challenging.” 

Webb said resolving issues on the front end, while working with the crews, is always the intent.

“We all work well together when it comes to giving our customers reliable service,” Webb said. “We not only restore power, but we do what we can to prevent outages from happening in the first place. That’s our daily mission.” 

Once again, this storm response is proving that employees are at the heart of our Reliability Roadmap– our blueprint for serving Michigan today while investing and innovating to meet the challenges of tomorrow.