GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A state agency will now require Consumers Energy and DTE to report how they are managing power outages and educating the public on downed power lines.
Because of public frustration during “a pattern of widespread, lengthy outages” following severe storms in West Michigan, the Michigan Public Services Commission said they have ordered the utility companies to report how they are complying with regulations.
Consumers and DTE will have to explain to the agency in detail how their downed wire response audits are formed and how technology is used to help find downed wires, monitor and control the power grid, and identify what impacts outage-related data loss. They will also have to show how “critical facilities” like hospitals and schools are prioritized after a power outage, according to a press release by MPSC.
During power outages, some people are injured or die by encountering downed power lines. Following Aug. 29 storms, a 14-year-old girl was killed and two boys were injured on the east side of the state after coming into contact with power lines that had been downed in the storm, the agency said.
Because of the MPSC audit, Consumers and DTE will have to report how they are engaging in public outreach to educate and train both the public and first responders on the dangers of downed power lines.
MPSC will also hire a consultant to perform an independent third-party audit and review of the utility companies’ electric distribution system. The audit will focus on reducing the number and duration of outages and identifying ways the companies can improve safety, especially when it comes to public contact with downed power lines.
The cost of the audit will be paid by Consumers and DTE Energy, MPSC said.