What is 6,000 pounds, an informal member of the amphibious family and hops in and out of a lake to the delight of onlookers?

No, it’s not a massive frog, but that would be cool. And it’s not from prehistoric times.

It’s an amphibious machine used by crews to inspect power lines, poles and transformers in areas where bucket trucks and other equipment can’t reach.

And it recently provided some excitement by rolling through a campground in Quincy, about five minutes outside of Coldwater, as folks fishing and others relaxing on their golf carts marveled at the scene.

Proactive Approach

The machine enters First Lake and its surrounding waters, including Marble Lake. These efforts are part of our proactive approach to providing safe, reliable electricity to our customers who live on the lakes and the surrounding areas. Through our Reliability Roadmap we are charting a course where no single outage affects more than 100,000 customers and all customers have their power restored within 24 hours.

“We take great pride in what we do,” said Gates, a lineworker in charge, who also drives the amphibious machine. “This machine is an important tool – one of many we use – that helps us keep our customers’ power on and provides the reliable service they expect from us.”

The machine, which looks like something the military would  use,  navigates land and water as crews, with their bright orange life preservers,  do line inspections in several areas. The machine powers down the water toward its destination of a pole in the water. Along the way, the crew encounters campers and others enjoying the park. They embrace the opportunity to stop and talk.

The crew joining Gates on this day includes lineworkers Jarret Wolford, Logan Clark, Meeshann Schmidt and Charlie Fisher and Cheyenne Abnet.

After plodding along through some murky waters and some rough terrain, they reach the destination, and a member of the crew safely scales a pole sticking out of the water.

The pole is checked for stability, and the equipment on the pole, including the cross arm and transformer, are also inspected. After more surveying for any potential issues, it’s back on the amphibious machine to head for land. If during the inspection, it is determined a pole needs to be replaced, they will return with additional equipment that can move through water, such as a flex track.

Providing ‘Top Notch’ Service

“This crew is great, just great” said Art Heudecker, who spends part of the year at a nearby campground and the winter in Wauseon, Ohio. “I have had nothing but great experiences with Consumers Energy and the crews that come out here to provide top-notch service for us, including this one.”

Heudecker recalled August 2021, when winds ripped down power lines close to his camper. He remembers crews responding and replacing several poles.

“They have an important job to do, and we enjoy watching them at work, especially today with the amphibious machine,” he said. “It’s just cool to see, and it gives you a certain peace of mind when they are here that we are getting reliable service.”

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Reliability Roadmap: Replacing substations to improve service in rural Northern Michigan

A Birds-Eye View Helps Improve Reliability

Consumers Energy Announces Reliability Roadmap to Achieve Fewer, Shorter Power Outages