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MI Public Service Commission to hold 'town hall' on power failures

Ice forms on utility lines as temperatures hover around freezing in Detroit, Monday, Feb. 27, 2023. Some Michigan residents faced a fourth straight day without power as crews worked to restore electricity to more than 165,000 homes and businesses in the Detroit area after last week's ice storm. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Paul Sancya/AP
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AP
Ice forms on utility lines as temperatures hover around freezing in Detroit, Monday, Feb. 27, 2023. Some Michigan residents faced a fourth straight day without power as crews worked to restore electricity to more than 165,000 homes and businesses in the Detroit area after last week's ice storm. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Michigan’s top utility regulators are planning to hold public hearings Monday in Jackson and Dearborn. The Public Service Commission is on the road to hear from people affected by last month’s widespread power outages.

Ice and snowstorm-related blackouts left hundreds of thousands of customers of DTE and Consumers Energy without electric service – for more than a week, in some cases. Utility executives have acknowledged their companies’ poor performance.

Commission spokesman Matt Helms says the PSC has already ordered a total, outside review of the state’s electricity-delivery system.

“That’s the wires, the poles, the transformers, just about anything that you can think of that’s involved in getting electricity to customers’ homes,” he said.

Helms said the hearings will help the commissioners understand specifically where the problems are and the steps needed to fix them.

“They do not believe that these outages are acceptable or that the reliability of Michigan’s electric system is at a level customers should expect or deserve, and they have acknowledged we’ve got some work to do,” Helms said.

The MPSC is an independent state agency that’s housed within the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. The commissioners who lead the agency were appointed to six-year terms by Governor Gretchen Whitmer with the advice and consent of the Michigan Senate.

Dan Scripps is the board chair. The other two other members are Tremaine Phillips and Katherine Peretick.

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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