Consumers Energy pulls plug on community’s Christmas tradition

Posted at 12:20 AM, Oct 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-26 00:21:00-04

CALHOUN COUNTY, Mich. -- Christmas is two months away, but some in a small community in Calhoun County say it's already been ruined.

For the past 20 years, the Urbandale community has prided itself on its Christmas spirit, displayed by hanging decorations and lights on electric poles downtown.  But this year, Consumers Energy is saying they can't do that.

Ronald Sloma, the Vice President of the Urbandale Level Park Business Association, says he's tried to contact Consumers several times about the decorations this year. He says he was recently told by Consumers that they couldn't hang their lights on their poles.

"It's sad that a large bureaucracy can’t see the good of something like this and really support our little community on Urbandale," Sloma said.

Sloma says he wasn't given a reason why they're not allowed to display the decorations this year, and says they've been doing it for the past 20 years without any trouble.  Consumers reportedly told the Battle Creek Enquirer that the logic behind the change was for safety reasons.

"We are very disappointed, and if there was a good logical reason, then you could accept it but there doesn’t seem to be any logical reason other than the whim of a corporation, a large corporation," Sloma said.

The decorations they have are tentatively set to sit in dark basements, which is disappointing to some because they say the community spent nearly $10,000 in fundraising money to buy the decorations and the boxes they hang on. They also paid $8,000 to install special electrical boxes from Consumers on the electric bills so they could be billed properly.

This all comes at no extra cost to Consumers Energy. Urbandale pays for the electric use on each pole, and puts up the decorations and takes them down every year.

There is a glimmer of hope; FOX 17 contacted Consumers Energy for a comment, and said they were looking further into Urbandale's request.

Urbandale citizens say they're hopeful they can work out a compromise with Consumers, but if not, then they will brainstorm other ways to light up the area for the holidays.