BWL plans to hire a "czar" to guide planning for future emergencies

May 7, 2014

The Lansing Board of Water and Light plans to hire someone to handle planning for future emergencies.

One of the biggest criticisms BWL received after last December’s major power outage was that the utility wasn't communicating well with those most affected.

About 40,000 people lost power during the Dec. 21 ice storm. Many had to wait 10 days or more to get their lights turned back on.

About 40,000 people lost power during the December 21st ice storm. Many had to wait 10 days or more to get their lights turned back on.
About 40,000 people lost power during the December 21st ice storm. Many had to wait 10 days or more to get their lights turned back on.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A recent report claims the utility also failed to keep in touch with local governments, which were also struggling to recover from a major pre-Christmas ice storm.

The report says at one point BWL, had no formal contact with the city of Lansing for three days during the restoration effort.

The report found a variety of in-house problems may have added two to three days to the power outage that paralyzed parts of Lansing.

The utility says it now plans to hire an "emergency preparedness czar" to develop plans for future emergencies and will start working with local governments to prepare for the next big storm.

In addition to being the utility’s liaison with the city of Lansing’s Emergency Operations Center, the new manager will help create an emergency preparedness work group that will help  “develop more effective policies, procedures and training to prepare for emergencies” involving BWL, the city of Lansing and other regional partners.