Power outages down to about 3,900
DETROIT (AP) – The lights were back on Sunday for all but about 3,900 of the 666,000 Michigan utility customers blacked out by an ice storm that hit the state more than a week ago, but anger at the municipal power company in the state’s capital continues to boil.
Michigan authorities also blame at least five deaths on the storm, three killed in crashes and two who died from carbon monoxide fumes from emergency generators.
DTE Energy Co. said that 800 of its 210,000 affected homes and businesses remained blacked out Sunday afternoon.
Jackson-based CMS Energy Corp. spokesman Dan Bishop said “essentially all” its 416,000 affected customers were back online Sunday, while the Lansing Board of Water & Light says about 3,300 of its 40,000 affected customers were still out.
The Lansing power company said 40 percent of its customers lost service as a result of the storm. It has defended its work to restore service to them. But some customers said they are unimpressed with the power company’s performance.
Some residents appeared at a utility news conference Saturday, shouting questions and demanding to learn how much longer they must live in cold, dark homes or stay with friends or in hotels, the Lansing State Journal reported.
“When it first happened, I had all the confidence in the world because they said ‘all hands on deck,'” said Matthew Oney of East Lansing. He said he has been living in a hotel this week with his family, including his 2-week-old daughter, Olivia.
Oney attended a rally at East Lansing’s Glencairn Elementary, holding a sign that read: “Two week old baby. When can she go home?”
“It seems they don’t care about us at all,” he said.
Lansing and East Lansing leaders said they would investigate the utility’s handling of the outages.
Board of Water & Light General Manager J. Peter Lark said the utility will not be able to tell individual customers when their lights will be on because it can’t track individual outages.
“If you’re not in the 90 percent, you’re not happy. I understand that,” he said Saturday. “We are going to do a very in-depth analysis of all of our responses, from the top – that’s me – all the way to the bottom.”