After latest power outages, same question remains: How can Michigan prevent them? (2024)

The state of Michigan is still recovering from last week’s powerful storms, which included several tornadoes. And once again, thousands and thousands of Michganders have suffered through extended power outages.

On Morning Edition, Michigan Radio’s Doug Tribou spoke state Sen. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor). Irwin’s one of the people who has been calling for changes to utility regulations and practices. He also sits on the advisory board for the group Ann Arbor for Public Power, which is advocating for the city of Ann Arbor to own its own municipal utility company, much like Lansing does.

Tribou also spoke to Consumers Energy President and CEO Garrick Rochow.

As of 7 a.m. Monday, approximately 60,000 customers in Michigan still didn’t have electricity, according to the utility tracker About half of those were Consumers Energy customers.

You can hear the full interviews with Irwin and Rochow above.

Selected highlights

Sen. Jeff Irwin on the response to the storms this summer:

“It's important to recognize the work of the line workers who are out there oftentimes in tough conditions, trying to get people's power back on. There's a lot of good work that does get done.

"Our power is not just relatively expensive and relatively dirty versus other states'. It's also extremely unreliable."

MI state Sen. Jeff Irwin

But I think I'm frustrated, and I know I hear from residents all the time who are really frustrated, with the overall performance that citizens here in Michigan get. Our power is not just relatively expensive and relatively dirty versus other states'. It's also extremely unreliable.

There's all sorts of employers who've been hit hard by this. There are folks who've, you know, just lost a lot of money, productivity. I mean, right now there are communities that aren't even able to open school.”

Consumers Energy CEO Gary Rochow on customers' frustrations after multiple, extended outages:

“We certainly appreciate the patience of every single one of our customers. We realize these are definitely inconvenient. We were out with what we call customer appreciation events over the weekend, giving free hamburgers, free meals, free breakfasts.

[W]hat we're seeing, from a weather pattern perspective over the last 20 years, is more frequent storms and higher wind speeds with those storms. Certainly an impact of climate change. So it's going to be important that we are making thoughtful and sound investment across our infrastructure to be prepared for the future. And that's underway across the state to improve reliability and further resiliency.

Now that comes with a price tag, but we're working hard to keep our bills affordable for every one of our customers through things like energy efficiency and doing our work in a much more efficient way to keep the bills down.”

Irwin on Ann Arbor for Public Power's push to have a city-owned utility in Ann Arbor, something that the city of Lansing already has:

“One other way that residents across the state can hold the industrial utilities accountable is that we have an option in our state constitution to create municipal electricity authorities like we have in so many places across the state of Michigan.

Not just Lansing, but also Holland and Marshall and Wyandotte and Chelsea. These entities allow the public to meet their power needs. Having that alternative is a really powerful way to hold the utilities accountable and make sure that residents needs are being met.

And so we've been exploring that in here in Ann Arbor for a couple of years now, because we want to be able to lower rates for our residents. We want to be able to increase reliability. And we know that there are big opportunities to do that, even with more renewables and a cleaner, more climate-friendly energy mix.”

Rochow on Consumers Energy’s pilot program for burying electric lines:

“We're excited about this program called 'selective' or 'strategic undergrounding' in those critical areas to improve overall resiliency. We do a lot of [line burying] already. We do it in subdivisions, we do it in metro areas, and we're looking to expand that program into some of those areas that are more prone to interruptions.

We've introduced a pilot in this current electric rate case of ten miles, which is very, very small but is an important stepping stone to walking into this and ensuring with the Public Service Commission that we can do it in an effective manner, both from a work perspective and a cost perspective. And then we look to build that up to about 400 miles a year, which would certainly improve reliability and resiliency for all Michigan residents.”

Editor's notes: Quotes in this article have been edited for length and clarity. You can listen to the full interviews near the top of the page.

Consumers Energy and DTE Energy are corporate sponsors of Michigan Radio.

After latest power outages, same question remains: How can Michigan prevent them? (2024)


Why does Michigan have so many power outages? ›

Michigan's aging grid and “inefficient practices by utilities to maintain the grid leave Michiganders more exposed to outages from weather events” than people in other states, said Amy Bandyk, executive director of the Citizens Utility Board of Michigan.

How can we protect against power outages? ›

To avoid a power outage, use backup systems like a portable generator, portable power station, UPS system, backup generator, or solar power system with battery backup. Common causes of power outages include storms, trees, vehicle collisions, earthquakes, animals, lightning, excavation digging, and high power demand.

What are the rules for power outages in Michigan? ›

Customers need to notify their electric utilities of the outage. A customer is eligible for a credit under normal conditions if the utility fails to restore service within 16 hours after an outage resulting from conditions other than catastrophic conditions. notify their electric utility of the outage.

How can we reduce power interruption? ›

Reduce Energy Consumption

You can reduce your energy consumption in your home or workplace by doing the following: Switch off any tools/equipment/appliances that aren't in use. Turn them off at the wall or unplug them to make sure no extra energy is spent on idle appliances.

Where does Michigan get most of its electricity? ›

Natural gas and nuclear both generate more than a quarter of all energy generated in Michigan. Together, these three sources account for nearly 90% of all the electricity generation in the state. The map below shows where electricity is generated in Michigan.

Why is electricity more expensive in Michigan? ›

As the state ramps up new energy requirements, Michiganders' electricity prices will keep ramping up, too. We're already seeing rates rise because of previous 'clean energy' regulations, and burdensome new laws will require costly investments and make electric bills more expensive for residents and local businesses.

Should I unplug my TV during a power outage? ›

Unplug appliances with electronic components, such as microwaves, televisions and computers. This will help to eliminate damage to your appliances from voltage surges when the electricity is restored. Wait a few minutes before turning on these appliances when the electricity is restored.

Should I unplug my computer during a power outage? ›

Televisions, computer equipment, game consoles, fans, lights and all other smaller appliances should be unplugged, especially if they were in use when the power went out. Larger appliances, such as refrigerators, should not be unplugged.

How do I protect my TV from power surges? ›

Here are some additional tips for protecting your electronics from power surges:
  1. Avoid plugging multiple high-power devices into the same outlet.
  2. Use power strips with surge protection for all of your electronics.
  3. Unplug electronics that you are not using.
  4. Consider installing a whole-house surge protector.

What months can your electric not be shut off in Michigan? ›

No disconnect for all residential customers when <20° F. LIHEAP-certified customers have complete protection from Nov. 1 through March 31 regardless of temperature; utility must offer payment plan after moratorium.

Is it illegal to shut off power in the winter in Michigan? ›

(1) A municipally owned electric utility shall not shut off service to an eligible customer during the heating season for nonpayment of a delinquent account if the customer is an eligible senior citizen customer or if the eligible customer enters into a winter protection payment plan to pay to the utility a monthly ...

Why doesn t Michigan bury power lines? ›

The number one reason why electricity in Michigan is generally carried in wires suspended in the air is cost. “Undergrounding is many times more expensive than installing and maintaining above ground lines,” said Greg Salisbury, Consumers Energy's Vice President of Electric Distribution Engineering.

How can we reduce power loss? ›

One of the simplest ways to reduce power losses in transmission lines is to choose an optimal voltage level for the line. The higher the voltage, the lower the current for the same power output, and the lower the resistive losses.

How to prevent electrical blackouts? ›

5 Ways to Protect Your Home From Power Outages This Season
  1. Get surge protectors. Think of surge protectors as inexpensive insurance for your costly electronic items. ...
  2. Power down and pull out the plug. ...
  3. Prepare a disaster kit. ...
  4. Protect your home from water. ...
  5. Keep your pipes from freezing.

How can we reduce faults in power system? ›

By instantly cutting power to defective parts, circuit breakers limit the spread of electrical faults and save expensive machinery from destruction. Depending on the voltage and current requirements, many types, such as air circuit breakers, vacuum circuit breakers and gas-insulated circuit breakers, are available.

Which US state has the most power outages? ›

The U.S. States with the Most and Least Power Outages

With the most annual power outages, Maine is surely left in the dark. The Pine Tree State tops the list with an average of 4.35 power outages every year, a stark increase above the national average of 1.62 per year.

What caused the Michigan blackout? ›

On Aug. 14, 2003, at about 4:10 p.m., millions of people living throughout Metro Detroit and Michigan were without power for at least one day, some even longer. The report said this was all because of a tree branch in Ohio that sparked an outage reaching seven other states and Canada.

Is DTE the worst power company? ›

Michigan's electricity giants, DTE Energy and Consumers, are rated worst in the country for reliability and ensuring lights turn back on after power outages.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Dr. Pierre Goyette

Last Updated:

Views: 5564

Rating: 5 / 5 (50 voted)

Reviews: 81% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Dr. Pierre Goyette

Birthday: 1998-01-29

Address: Apt. 611 3357 Yong Plain, West Audra, IL 70053

Phone: +5819954278378

Job: Construction Director

Hobby: Embroidery, Creative writing, Shopping, Driving, Stand-up comedy, Coffee roasting, Scrapbooking

Introduction: My name is Dr. Pierre Goyette, I am a enchanting, powerful, jolly, rich, graceful, colorful, zany person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.