lansing board of water and light

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Lansing Board of Water & Light has chosen a longtime city firefighter as its new emergency operations manager.

Trent Atkins is the city's assistant fire chief.

BWL was heavily criticized for its response to an ice storm last December. More than 40,000 BWL customers lost electricity in the wake of the Dec. 21 ice storm. Thousands spent 10 days or more waiting for the lights to come back on.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The average Lansing Board of Water & Light electric and water customer can expect to see their bills increase, if proposed rate hikes go through.

The utility board will decide next week whether to approve the changes. 

“I don’t imagine any customers are looking forward to rate increase,” admits J. Peter Lark, BWL’s General Manager, “but I think it’s essential.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Lansing’s mayor may have real ‘power’ at his fingertips at times of emergency, if city voters agree in November.

Tens of thousands of Lansing Board of Water and Light customers spent days in the dark last December after a major ice storm.   The utility’s leadership was heavily criticized for a disorganized response to the black out. 

BWL’s response to the storm and its aftermath were the subject of reviews by a panel appointed by Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, the state Public Service Commission and by the utility itself.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Lansing Board of Water and Light wants to build Michigan’s largest solar power facility.

BWL officials say they want to contract with companies or organizations to build a solar power facility to generate up to five megawatts of electricity. Altogether the project could potentially be five times bigger than the next largest solar array in the state.

BWL’s proposal is a little vague on specifics, including where a facility would be located.

A utility spokesman says the project could provide enough electricity to power 2500 homes.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Lansing residents will get some additional help next time a massive ice storm knocks out their electricity.

Last December, about 40,000 Lansing Board of Water and Light customers lost their power during a pre-Christmas ice storm. Thousands spent the holiday in the dark as utility crews tried to restore power.   

The heavy ice yanked the wiring out of about 1,000 homes and businesses. Homeowners had to track down electricians during the holidays to reconnect homes to electric meters before power could be restored. Many had to wait 11 to 12 days.

BWL's general manager issued a statement saying the utility has "already begun implementing many of the improvements recommended by the MPSC."
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

State utility regulators are the latest to give Lansing’s city electric utility poor marks for how it handled a massive ice storm in December.

The Michigan Public Service Commission says the Lansing Board of Water & Light was not prepared for the Dec. 21 ice storm that knocked out power to about 40,000 BWL customers. Many customers had to wait 10 days or more to get their electricity restored.

The MPSC report echoes the findings of BWL’s own internal review and a panel appointed by Lansing’s mayor. Among other things, the MPSC says BWL needs to improve its tree trimming and communications programs. The public service commission does not regulate BWL, so its findings are little more than recommendations for change.

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero asked for the state review. He says the three reports will provide a “road map” for BWL to be a more reliable energy provider.

BWL’s general manager issued a statement saying the utility has “already begun implementing many of the improvements recommended by the MPSC.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

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.

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.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The length of last December's power outage in Lansing was made worse by problems within the city's utility, according to a new report.

For four months, a special panel has been reviewing what went wrong during a Dec. 21 ice storm that left thousands of BWL customers in the dark for 10 days or more. In all, the storm knocked out power to about 40,000 BWL customers just before Christmas.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

An internal report finds a key communication system that failed during December’s ice storm had been malfunctioning for months before the storm.

The Lansing Board of Water and Light released the findings of an internal review of its response to the storm last night.  More than 35,000 BWL customers lost power, some for as long as 10 days.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The panel that oversees the Lansing Board of Water and Light this evening will review the findings of a "top-to-bottom" internal probe of the utility’s response to a devastating December ice storm.

The Dec. 22 ice storm knocked out electricity to more than 35,000 BWL customers. It took the utility more than a week to get the lights back on.

Customers complain the utility was slow to respond to the outage, and even slower to respond to their telephone calls.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Lansing City Council picked a new president last night.

It’s a routine bit of government business that in recent years has been anything but routine.

Sharp divisions between the supporters and opponents of Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero have made the selection of a council president quite contentious during the past few years. Two years ago, the council needed a dozen votes to select a president. Last year, the selection process was rife with angry accusations.

But last night, A’Lynne Boles was elected president with little drama.  

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Lansing’s mayor wants an independent review of how the city’s utility handled a major power outage last month.

The Lansing Board of Water and Light has been criticized for the long wait many of its customers had before their electricity was restored after the Dec. 22 ice storm. About 40% of BWL’s customers lost power after the storm. Many had to wait for more than a week to have their lights turned back on.

Consumers Energy

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.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Lansing Board of Water and Light officials are defending their heavily criticized response to last month’s major power outage.

BWL customers like Alice Dreger are livid over having to wait more than a week for their power to be turned back on.

"Let me tell you, when you have live wires down for nine to 12 days, safety is not job one,” Dreger told a packed meeting last night at BWL’s headquarters.

But a majority of those taking the podium praised the work of BWL employees. Most were BWL employees and officials, though a few were BWL customers.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

In the midst of the current weather crisis, Lansing utility officials plan to spend time tonight trying to figure out what went wrong during the last weather crisis in the capitol city.

Two weeks ago, an ice storm knocked out power to 40% of Lansing Board of Water and Light customers.

Many customers grew very angry as they waited for more than a week to get their electricity turned back on. That anger only grew worse when it was learned that the man in charge of the city’s utility left town during the outage to spend time with his family in New York.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

It's going to be another cold one

Wind chills could reach 26 below zero in West Michigan, 32 below in mid Michigan, and 40 below in Southeast Michigan today. Gov. Rick Snyder is asking people to stay home during the cold snap.

New report offers plans to fight Asian carp

"The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has released a report years in the making that offers eight plans for preventing Asian carp and other species from migrating between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi basin. Some options involve placing physical barriers in the waterways to separate the watersheds. Other potential steps include use of locks, electric barriers and water treatment to remove invasive species," the Associated Press reports.

Lansing utility scheduled to meet about ice storm that left thousands without power for days

The Lansing Board of Water and Light is scheduled to meet tonight regarding the ice storm that left 40% of its customers without power for more than a week. The utility's general manager,  J. Peter Lark,  has apologized for going to New York City on vacation when the power went out.

If you haven’t noticed that much of our state has been semi-paralyzed by the snowstorm, then I assume you are reading from Florida. That actually happened yesterday. Someone called while I was shoveling to ask if we had any snow. When I sputtered with amazement, it turned out my caller was in Naples, where it was 82 degrees.

He had once been in politics, and while my hands froze, we talked briefly about politics and the weather and a man few remember today, Michael Bilandic. He had been elected mayor of Chicago in 1977, after the legendary first Mayor Daley dropped dead.

He was at first very popular, and his political future seemed assured. But exactly 35 years ago this month, Chicago was hit by a record blizzard. Think what we’ve got is bad?

Chicago was hit with more than 20 inches in less than two days, and the city wasn’t up for the challenge. Snow wasn’t cleared, people couldn’t get to work, and the mayor couldn’t keep his promises to clear parking lots and keep the airports open. Unfortunately for him, he had to face an election that spring, and with the weather disaster as the main issue, he lost.

I thought of him because Gov. Rick Snyder also mishandled a weather situation last month, when hundreds of thousands of people lost power, light and heat. The governor was nowhere to be seen.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Heavy snow is blanketing parts of Michigan that just recovered from an ice storm two weeks ago.

Hundreds of thousands of utility customers spent days, in some cases nearly two weeks, without electricity.

“At this point we’re monitoring, and ready to respond, depending on what weather may come,” says Dan Bishop, a Consumers Energy spokesman.

Statewide, utility officials are closely watching to see if weather conditions may threaten to undo the repair work done over the past few weeks.

There was a lot of attention yesterday to the fact that when tens of thousands of Lansing-area customers lost power for days at Christmas, the head of the capitol city’s utility got going.

To New York City, on vacation. Yesterday, J. Peter Lark, the president of the Lansing Board of Water and Light, finally apologized for leaving when his customers were freezing.

Lark, whose compensation is more than $300,000 a year, said “There are times when we are called upon as leaders to make personal sacrifices in the line of duty,“ and then admitted he didn’t do that. He said. “I humbly and sincerely apologize.” Did he offer to resign?  No, no, no.

Does he think his utility needs more oversight? Why, of course not!  However, he said he might have some “community forums” to get consumer input about this. And he added, “I am prepared to ask the commission for a rate increase,“ evidently so the suffering people can pay even more for lousy service. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The head of Lansing’s public utility says he won’t resign in the wake of a major ice storm that left hundreds of thousands of people in the dark over the holidays. J. Peter Lark, the general manager of Lansing Board of Water and Light issued this statement Thursday.

As has been reported by some media outlets, I with my wife, traveled to New York to visit my son last week.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Lansing’s public utility says it has restored power to its entire service area. But on the utility’s facebook and twitter feeds, there are more than a dozen people claiming they still don’t have power.

A week and a half after a massive ice storm wiped out power to almost half Lansing’s customers, the public utility claims it has finally restored power to all but some single customers and possibly pockets of streets.

Consumer's Energy

About 150 thousand Michigan utility customers have spent another cold day waiting for their electricity to be restored.    

Sunday’s ice storm left almost a half million Michigan homes and businesses without electricity. 

As of midday, approximately 125,000 Consumer’s Energy customers were still without electricity.  About 20,000 DTE Energy customers and 7,000 Lansing Board of Water & Light customers were still in the dark as well.

Debra Dodd is a Consumer’s Energy spokeswoman.  She says linemen are doing the best job they can in very cold conditions.

Consumer's Energy

About 250,000 Michigan homes and businesses remain without power after a weekend ice storm that blacked out at least 482,000 homes and businesses and may have caused a Delta jetliner with 180 people on board to slide off a taxiway at Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

The wintry blast hit Saturday night. The utilities say it will be days before most power is restored because of the difficulty of working around ice-broken lines.

DTE Energy says 56,000 of its affected 150,000 customers were off line.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

It will be Saturday at least before electricity is restored to all the Michigan homes and businesses that lost power in Sunday’s ice storm.

The storm knocked out power to almost a half million Michiganders.  About 300,000 are still waiting for their electricity to be turned back on. 

Brian Wheeler is a Consumers Energy spokesman.  He says about a third of the nearly 200,000 Consumers Energy customers without electricity are in Flint and Genesee County

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

UPDATE 8:06pm

JACKSON, Mich. (AP) - Winter has arrived in Michigan with an icy blast, sending freezing rain across a wide section of the Lower Peninsula, knocking out electrical service to at least 382,000 homes and businesses and causing multiple crashes around the state.

The state's largest utilities say it will be days before most of those blacked out get their power back because of the difficulty of working around ice-broken lines.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan’s first new utility built power plant in 25 years was fired up today in Lansing.

The Reo Town power plant’s natural gas powered turbines whirled to life this morning.

The $182 million plant will generate electricity and steam for Lansing Board of Water and Light customers.   The plant will generate up to 300,000 pounds of steam for 225 steam customers in downtown Lansing and will completely replace BWL’s Moores Park Steam Plant.   It also will provide 100 megawatts of electricity, about 20 percent of the utility's electric generation. 

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

As expected, the Lansing city council last night failed to muster enough votes to override the mayor’s budget veto.

But Lansing’s budget drama is not over yet.

The Lansing city council needed six votes to reinstate the changes it made to the city budget last month.

But only five council members voted to override Mayor Virg Bernero’s veto.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Lansing city council is expected to try to override the mayor’s budget vetoes tonight. But the council does not appear to have enough votes to do it.

The Lansing city council made many changes to Mayor Virg Bernero’s spending plan for next year when it passed the budget last month.    A few days later, the mayor vetoed all the council’s changes.    Now it’s the council's chance to respond.  

Six of the council's eight members would need to vote to override the vetoes.   That appears unlikely.   

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero today vetoed all the changes the city council made to his budget plan for next year.

The city council passed a budget on Monday that axed many of the mayor’s spending priorities in order to avoid new streetlight and fire hydrant fees.  The fees would have added up to about 46 dollars a year for the average Lansing Board of Water and Light residential customer. 

Money for road repairs, economic development, city IT services and personnel hiring were among the line items the city council axed from the budget. 

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Lansing city leaders are weighing a couple of options that could increase the bills of city utility customers.

The mayor is proposing either a flat fee or a surcharge based on a customer’s water or electricity use to pay for Lansing’s fire hydrants and streetlights.  The money raised would help the city fill a projected $5 million hole in next year’s city budget.

In the past, the city paid the utility directly from its general fund for maintaining Lansing’s streetlights and fire hydrants.

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