GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — After two ice storms rolled through West Michigan, leaving thousands without power, Consumers Energy says it expects to have most customers back online by the end of Wednesday.
On Feb. 22, an ice storm hit Southern Michigan counties the hardest, bringing down over 11,000 power lines that left as many as 215,000 customers across the state without power. Just five days later, freezing rain took down another 800 power lines, mainly in counties north of Grand Rapids. Consumers says between the two storms, more than 385,000 customers were affected.
Many Consumers outages due to Monday’s bad weather were in Montcalm County, which saw about 50% of customers affected, and northeastern Kent County.
“We’ve had over 600 crews on our system in the state between Consumers and crews from other states working on restoration and cleanup,” Josh Paciorek, a spokesperson for Consumers Energy, told News 8 Tuesday.
Once crews start to finish up restoring southern counties, they will head north.
“Our expectation is that we’ll have the power restored to most of the customers impacted by the end of the day Wednesday,” Paciorek said.
Two ice storms back-to-back hit crews especially hard, but Paciorek said that with good weather forecasted Tuesday and Wednesday, they should be able to meet their target restoration time.
He acknowledged it’s been difficult for those who lost power and said Consumers is “going to need to make improvements to get better on behalf of those customers who are still without power.”
Consumers is offering an outage credit for customers who are without power for 120 hours, or five days, in catastrophic storm conditions. Paciorek said these ice storms qualified as such. Information on outage credits can be found on the Consumers website.
After catastrophic storms, Paciorek said Consumers always does an after-action report where they “determine what can we do to improve and make sure that we can restore power faster for our customers in the future.”
He said the company has already made a lot of progress, including restoring power within 24 hours to more than 96% of customers who experience outages and cutting the number of outages by 20% from 2021 to 2022.
“We are making improvements in terms of building a stronger, more reliable more resilient grid. What this storm demonstrated is we still have a long way to go, both in reducing the number of power outages and reducing the length of power outages. We have to make sure that we can get customers on faster. Even after a catastrophic storm like this goes through,” Paciorek said.