Michigan Public Service Commission Calls on Energy Providers to Answer Questions About Summer Storm Failures

Severe storms may be the new normal in Michigan, putting a strain on the utility companies trying to keep the lights on.

The Michigan Public Service Commission is calling on all electric providers it regulates to answer questions about storms this summer that left more than a million residents without power for several days.

Dan Scripps is the chair of the Michigan Public Service Commission. The commission believes that in order to improve services, more information from the utility companies is needed.

“We need to do more. Not just relying on historical numbers, but thinking about what this looks like in an era of climate change.” –Dan Scripps, Michigan Public Service Commission

The information they’re looking to collect includes everything from tree trimming and grid hardening processes to the best and worst performing circuits in their systems. They’re also looking for more concrete information about customer relief.

“Plans or actions coming out of the August storms, in terms of bill credits for customers, a summary of restoration efforts, including the costs of restoring the storm,” explains Scripps. “And opportunities for improvement both in store response and communication to customers, which is an area that I think caused a lot of frustration this past month.”

According to Scripps, the toll that summer’s storms have taken on consumers has been “shocking.” “Each wave impacted a different part of [providers’] service territory, which just means that when you look at the outage map, every place was affected,” he says. “I think that was eye opening. … This was the second worst storm in DTE’s 135-year history, but the first the worst storm was just four years ago.”

The Public Service Commission is considering the effects of climate change when evaluating the data at hand. “Understanding that storms are becoming increasingly severe, increasingly common, and that we need to do more,” says Scripps. “Not just relying on historical numbers, but thinking about what this looks like in an era of climate change.”

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  • Tia Graham
    Tia Graham is a reporter and Weekend Edition Host for 101.9 WDET. She graduated from Michigan State University where she had the unique privilege of covering former President Barack Obama and his trip to Lansing in 2014.