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December's Ice Storm Will Not Raise Energy Rates

December's Ice Storm Will Not Raise Energy Rates

Consumer's Energy and DTE are telling state lawmakers they will not seek a rate increase to cover their costs resulting from that massive ice storm that hit parts of southeast and central Michigan just before Christmas.

Utility officials testified before the House Energy and Technology Committee Tuesday regarding their response to the outages, how preparedness plans were utilized and what proactive measures could be taken to minimize the effects of future power failures.

The utilities are giving themselves good grades for the restoration effort.

The more than 400,000 utility customers who went days without power might not be as generous with their grading of the utilities.

But customers may be happy to learn the $83 million price tag to restore the power will be not be passed along to them.

The utilities officials did concede that mistakes were made.

Consumers Energy spokesman Dan Malone says that the biggest thing for the customer is to give them accurate information and sometimes they weren't able to do that.

The utilities also concede they need to do more about trimming trees and will spend $95 million over the next five years to avoid a repeat of performance.

DTE spokesman Trevor Lauer says all underground lines will not solve the problem either since they last half as long as overhead lines and it's harder to find the outages, resulting in 60-70% longer downtime than an overhead outage.

The committee was especially tough on the Lansing Board of Water and Light which had 40% of its customers without power as its Chief Executive Peter Lark vacationed in New York City for two days during the middle of the wintry blast.

Energy Committee chair Republican Aric Nesbitt says the BWL and its communications department failed their customers.

Lark did not attend the hearing.

 

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