Lights out: Consumers Energy dealing with frozen lines, fallen limbs

Posted at 8:11 PM, Feb 06, 2019

WALKER, Mich.  —  Consumers Energy reported more than 31,000 outages as of 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, as utility crews worked to repair downed power lines and blown tranformers caused by thick ice from the freezing rain Tuesday night into Wednesday morning.

Consumers Energy Outage Map at 8:07pm 2/6/2019.

Consumers said at that time there were 628 active outages, compared to the 671 reported at 7:54 p.m. Wednesday, with many of them in Kent, Ottawa, Ionia and Muskegon counties. The outages were widely-scattered, but some of the more concentrated clusters are chronicled below.

Tree limbs had toppled onto a number of power lines throughout the area. Consumers Energy posted on social media at 9:23 p.m. Wednesday: “We understand customers’ frustration and promise that Consumers Energy crews, in-state contractor crews and mutual assistance crews from Kentucky will be working 24/7 to safely and quickly restore power for all our neighbors. ”

Near Norton Shores, more than 1,500 utility customers remained in the dark, more than 15 hours after the first outages were reported around 4:42 a.m. Wednesday. Downed tree limbs were cited as the cause on the Consumers Energy Outage Map. The estimated time for the power to be restored there was 11:30 p.m. Thursday.

Near Walker, the lights began going out around 2:15 a.m. Wednesday, as heavy rain froze upon contact. Consumers Energy reported 2, 951 active outages at 8 p.m. Wednesday, with power restoration predicted for 11:30 p.m. Thursday.

In northeast Grand Rapids, in an area bounded roughly by Michigan Street to the north, Lake Drive to the south, Diamond Avenue to the west and Breton Road to the east, Consumers reported 1,532 outages. More than 1,000 outages were registered by the utility company south of I-96, between Fuller and Monroe avenues south to Knapp Street.

In Byron Township, 1,308 electrical outages were being reported Wednesday night in the Cutlerville area, near 68th Street and Clyde Park Avenue.

Consumers Energy said in its social-media post, “Freezing rain or sleet can cause ice buildup on trees and power lines — ½ inch of ice can add as much as 500 pounds of additional weight.

“As a result, some outages may occur immediately while others occur throughout the day as the weight from ice on top of power lines and trees continues to build from extended precipitation and frigid temperatures. Also, as temperatures warm and the ice thaws on trees, additional outages may occur as tree branches brush power lines while springing up to their original position. Areas that may not have experienced outages right away may experience it later causing a ‘domino effect’ of downed power lines throughout the state. Weather conditions also impact the speed of restoration as crews are taking additional precautions to ensure their safety…”.