Colder weather moves into Michigan as crews work to restore power to last 800 in Lansing area

12/30/2013
ASSOCIATED PRESS

LANSING, Mich. — Colder weather made its way into Michigan on Monday as crews worked to restore power to the last people left without electrical service following an ice storm more than a week ago.

In the Lansing area, where roughly 800 Lansing Board of Water & Light customers were without power as of Monday afternoon, the National Weather Service reported the temperature stood at 18 at 2 p.m.

A special Lansing City Council meeting is planned for Monday night and officials with the municipal power company are expected to speak.

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 at least five deaths on the storm, including three killed in crashes and two who died from carbon monoxide fumes from emergency generators.

The cold weather Monday was felt throughout the state, and snow was in the forecast in places.

Temperatures at 2 p.m. ranged from 25 in Monroe County in the far southeast to minus 4 in Ironwood in the western Upper Peninsula. Ironwood’s overnight low fell to minus 17.

In all, about 666,000 Michigan utility customers lost power, including 40,000 from the Lansing utility. The Lansing power company said 40 percent of its customers lost service, and it has defended its work to restore service to them.

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

Lansing and East Lansing leaders have said they would investigate the utility’s handling of the outages. The Michigan Public Service Commission could investigate the response and might start that process at one of its meetings next month.

Jackson-based CMS Energy Corp. said essentially all its 416,000 affected customers were back online. Detroit-based DTE Energy Co. says all its 210,000 affected homes and businesses had power back as of Sunday night.

“DTE understands how difficult it is to be without power, especially during the holidays,” the utility said in a statement. “The company appreciates the patience of its customers during the restoration process.”

The state Department of Environmental Quality on Monday issued an emergency order 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.