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MI AG, state utility commission solicit public comments about outages

down powerlines and tree limbs after a major 2021 storm in Milan Michigan
Lester Graham
Michigan Radio

Wind damage from storms Tuesday afternoon and evening have left tens of thousands of Michiganders without electricity Wednesday morning.

As of 6 a.m. Wednesday, Consumers Energy is reporting more than 39,000 customers have lost power. Many of the outages are in Mid Michigan. DTE Energy has more than 41,000 customers without electricity in Southeast Michigan. There are large pockets of outages in Oakland and Macomb counties.

Extended outages after severe storms earlier this month are getting a close from Attorney General Dana Nessel and the Michigan Public Service Commission.

Nessel is asking utility customers to tell her office about hardships experienced during those outages.

More than 300,000 Consumers customers and more than 600,000 DTE customers went without power at some point during the storms.

Nessel said she plans to have the public comments analyzed in order to better advocate for customers when her office takes part in hearings before the Michigan Public Service Commission.

She said utilities and the commission have known for a long time that climate change will cause more frequent and more severe storms. Other states also experience severe weather, Nessel added, but they do not have the same poor track record as Michigan when it comes to extended outages.

"We can't be in a situation where we're caught off guard, " said Nessel, "and where every time we have a storm of that significance, over 800,000 people in our state lose power – and not just for a day or so but sometimes a week or more."

Nessel is also planning a listening tour in the hardest-hit areas of the state.

Meanwhile, the Michigan Public Service Commission has called a special hearing on Wednesday from 10:30-11:30 a.m. for public comments about the outages. People can attend in person or via Microsoft Teams.

In a statement, DTE said, "We appreciate the Attorney General's focus on customers who have experienced hardships caused by the recent severe storms. DTE is actively working in the communities hardest hit by recent storms to improve reliability while also accelerating efforts to reduce outages across our service territory."

Editor's note: Consumers Energy and DTE Energy are both corporate sponsors of Michigan Radio.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Radio. She began her career at Michigan Radio as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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