Residents slam Lansing public power company after ice storm
Written by Associated Press   
Tuesday, 31 December 2013 07:02

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Angry residents packed a Lansing City Council meeting Monday night to slam the municipal power company's handling of widespread outages from an ice storm nine days earlier.

The Lansing Board of Water & Light said about 800 homes and businesses remained offline Monday in the aftermath of the Dec. 21 storm. In all, about 40,000 of its customers, or 40 percent, lost power at one point or another.

Residents lined up to give short, angry speeches accusing the power system's management of failing to communicate and lagging in its response to the outages.

"Let's hold them accountable for their incompetence," said Kyle Shumaker, 28.

Consumers Energy Corp. and DTE Energy Co., the state's largest utilities, say they have fully restored power to those affected by the storm. In all, 666,000 Michigan homes and businesses were blacked out and at least five people died in the storm.

Over the weekend, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero directed police and fire personnel to conduct door-to-door welfare checks in areas without power. They're expected to continue until service is restored, MLive.com reported.

"As this crisis continues, please help us reach out to your neighbors, especially senior citizens, disabled citizens and families with young children, who may still be trying to stay in a cold home," Bernero said.

Michigan authorities blame the storm for three crash deaths and the deaths of two people from carbon monoxide fumes emitted by emergency generators.

A wave of cold weather hit Michigan on Monday, with overnight lows ranging from minus 17 at Ironwood in the western Upper Peninsula to 19 above in the unincorporated community of Lambertville in the southeast corner of the Lower Peninsula.

Lines formed Monday at Lansing Board of Water & Light centers that were opened to update customers on restoration efforts, the Lansing State Journal reported.

"Basically, they're going to get back in touch with me if there is indeed something they can do to help me," Fred Whiting told WILX-TV after showing up at the power company's headquarters looking for answers, only to find out the company didn't know he was still without power.

"Because of the unprecedented number of outages, some customers, quite frankly, have fallen through the crack," said utility spokesman Stephen Serkaian. "This is all part of the process, in order to make sure we can get to a complete power restoration."

The state Department of Environmental Quality issued an emergency order Monday allowing Barry, Clinton, Eaton, Genesee, Ingham and Shiawassee counties to send debris from fallen and cut branches to landfills. Those counties were hardest hit by the storm. The order may be extended to other counties.

Up to 10,000 tons of tree trimmings and other yard clippings cleared from each county may be disposed in licensed Type II landfills through March 31.

State rules normally prohibit sending tree trimmings or other yard clippings to landfills.


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