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Consumers Energy faced state lawmakers Wednesday over mass prolonged outages from recent ice storm

February's ice storm caused damage and power outages throughout the state
Posted at 9:44 AM, Mar 16, 2023

JACKSON, Mich. — The ice storm that froze much of Michigan just a few weeks ago left behind serious damage and more than 300,000 Michiganders without power—some of which for days.

Many of those without power were in southern Michigan, including Jackson and Hillsdale Counties. One of those people was Jackson resident Tim Mastie.

"It was bad. It was basically a week of hell," Mastie said. "In our back yard there was actually a utility pole...that snapped off and was laying with the wires on the ground for nearly the entire week."

Mastie, his wife and four children were without heat for days in the middle of February.

"We ended up finding a relative that had a generator; they loaned us the generator," Mastie said.

Mastie said gas for the generator cost them up to $50 a day, for their home to get up to just 56 degrees Fahrenheit.

"All the food that we had in the fridge spoiled," Mastie said. "It was quite a bit. We'd actually just gone shopping a couple days prior to the storm."

They took their family to stay at a local hotel for a couple of days, but even that wasn't easy.

"All the utility workers that they called in from out of state...had taken up every single hotel room," Mastie said.

Then, a room with two beds turned out to be a room with just one.

"Me and my wife actually slept outside in the car," Mastie said.

Wednesday morning, Michigan residents shared their similar experiences with state lawmakers at the Capitol, with Consumers Energy in attendance.

"As you can see, the consensus has been people over profits—for sure—and I hope you at Consumers and DTE are listening to that," State Rep. Helena Scott said.

Consumers Energy Spokesperson Brian Wheeler said this has been a learning experience.

"We understand that people are frustrated in many cases to go without power for five, six, seven days is a long time, and so believe me we are sorry for that in some cases the damage that we saw here took that long to restore," Wheeler said. "We're going to be taking lessons from this storm, and really working to reduce the length of power outages in the future."

Wheeler said Consumers Energy will be focusing on keeping lines out of tree limbs and in some cases, though expensive, investing in underground infrastructure.

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