Nearly 500,000 Michigan homes and businesses were without power over Labor Day weekend as severe storms swept through mostly the Lower Peninsula, bringing heavy rain and damaging winds up to 70 mph.
Electric co-op members were affected largely in the service areas of Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op (PIE&G), Great Lakes Energy, HomeWorks Tri-County, Cherryland and Midwest. A few scattered outages were also felt by Cloverland and Alger Delta members in the U.P.; and in Thumb Electric’s area, where 400 were affected, the co-op sent three lineworkers to provide four days of mutual aid to DTE.
“It was slow going, especially for Presque Isle, Great Lakes and HomeWorks, because a lot of trees fell and had to be removed from roads and other areas before they could begin repairing the lines,” reports Joe McElroy, safety and loss control director for the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association. In spite of this, all the co-ops restored service to most of their affected members by the next day, and all service was restored within a few days.
For PIE&G, work began a bit earlier – in the late afternoon of Thursday, Sept. 4, and caused outages for about 2,085 members. “PIE&G crews and office staff worked into the evening in anticipation of the storms,” reports Maire Chagnon-Hazelman, member services manager. “A more severe second round of storms arrived during the night, as line crews worked to restore all but about 240 services by the next morning.”
Midwest Energy also had about 2,000 outages at the storm’s peak.
Great Lakes Energy reported a total of about 12,402 outages over at least 15 counties. Because of the severe damage, additional tree contracting crews had to be called for assistance.
At HomeWorks Tri-County, about 1,327 members were affected. “Line crews worked for several hours in the dark to repair the downed lines without making much progress, due to main roads being blocked by large trees,” the co-op reported on Facebook.
“Cherryland mostly just had scattered outages that didn’t affect that many members,” reports Nick Edson, communications director. “The most we had out at one time was 1,200 (out of 34,000), right here in the Grawn area.”
Investor-owned utility areas had the most outages, with DTE Energy seeing about 385,000 customers without power (mostly in Wayne County), and over 1,000 downed power lines, according to a Detroit Free Press report. Consumers Energy reported about 77,000 outages.