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Gov. Whitmer says winter storm outages part of a pattern of disinvestment

Governor Gretchen Whitmer smiling, the Mackinaw Bridge is in the background
Consumers Energy

Governor Gretchen Whitmer says widespread power outages due to last week’s ice storm should spur action on re-building and improving infrastructure.

Last week’s ice storm left hundreds of thousands of households without power for days through freezing temperatures. That’s as floods and downed electric lines due to torrential storms have become more common due to climate change.

Whitmer said preparing for future events won’t be easy or cheap.

“This is the culmination of old infrastructure with climate events that are happening with greater ferocity and greater frequency,” she said.

“It is frustrating that we are here again,” she said. “I know that residents are frustrated. I know that they (utilities) are making progress, but we’ve got to make sure that we’ve got accountability here and that we’ve got to move faster as these climate events happen more and more often.”

Work by the state’s two largest utilities, DTE Energy and Consumers Energy, to have customers re-connected is supposed to wrap up sometime Monday.

Whitmer said she wants the Michigan Public Service Commission to take the lead on developing a response to prevent future widespread outages. She said the utility-regulating agency has the expertise. The agency is led by three commissioners appointed by Whitmer.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.
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