State regulators will investigate how Consumers Energy, DTE responded to major December power outage

Jan 8, 2014

State regulators are going to spend the next few months assessing how well Consumers Energy and DTE responded to a massive power outage after an ice storm last month.

It’s estimated 626,000 DTE and Consumers Energy customers lost power after the Dec. 22 ice storm.  

It was New Year’s Eve by the time the utilities restored power to most of its customers.

John Quackenbush is the chairman of the Michigan Public Service Commission.  He says its focus is having a “reliable” system. But Quackenbush wants to avoid creating a “gold-plated” system that would be too expensive for ratepayers.

“You know you can pay a lot of money to insure a higher level of reliability,” says Quackenbush, “We have to have a proper balance.”

Quackenbush says the investigation should help identify “best practices” that all utilities could adopt to improve responses to outages. 

State regulators will not be investigating how the Lansing Board of Water and Light handled the same outage. BWL has been criticized for how it responded to the storm that knocked out power to 40% of its customers.

The Michigan Public Service Commission does not have jurisdiction over municipal utilities. But there is a proposal in the state Legislature to put BWL under the oversight of the MPSC.