Portage man in dispute with Consumers Energy after blown transformer causes oil damage

Posted at 10:07 PM, May 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-31 22:07:49-04

PORTAGE, Mich. — Steve Littell lives along Portage Road and had the misfortune of a transformer exploding outside his home in March 2017. The transformer belongs to Consumers Energy, and Littell said it sprayed oil onto his property.

“They’re the ones that came up, knocked on my door and let me know, ‘Hey, you had a transformer blow up last night.’ I walked out and literally oil everywhere.”

Littell recalled, “So they cleaned the whole front of the garage. They cleaned my house. They went into the back. They cleaned the hot tub. They cleaned my patio furniture.”

The list goes on, however Littell said the cleanup was insufficient. He said oil residue was left behind on his property. Littell said he explained this to the company’s claims representative. He said he was then told to replace the affected property and that he’d be reimbursed.

Littell said he had a lot of work done, including new siding on the entire home and has been looking for Consumers to pay for the portion that was stained by oil. However, he said he’s being met with resistance. As it relates to the siding, Littell said he’s being told to have the siding company confirm oil damage did in fact occur to the old siding.

“I’ve told her four or five times, I don’t expect for you to pay for this whole thing. I just expect you to be fair and replace the damage. You know, the whole front of my garage and the side. There’s spots all over,” Littell recalled.

Consumers Energy said in a statement:

“Consumers Energy has been working with Mr. Littell to resolve this issue since early 2017, when an electric transformer failed and sprayed non-hazardous mineral oil on portions of his home and property. Because of this incident, Consumers Energy has paid to clean the outside of his home, provided property restoration and tested the material to confirm the transformer oil contained no hazardous materials.

Since this initial work, Mr. Littell has asked for Consumers Energy to pay for other items he has replaced, including house siding and structural modifications. Consumers Energy has repeatedly asked Mr. Littell for written documentation that the replaced items had indeed been damaged by the mineral oil. He has yet to provide that documentation. Consumers Energy will continue working with Mr. Littell for a fair resolution of the matter.”

Roger Morgenstern, Consumers Energy Spokesman