The ice storm of late December 2013 hit the Lansing area hard,
and the municipal power authority has not handled the resulting
outages as well as citizens would have them do.
The Lansing, Michigan area has electrical service from LBWL,
the Lansing Board of Water and Light. Even though the surrounding
area is served by Consumers Energy, LBWL serves an area roughly
encompassing Lansing and East Lansing. For one thing,
LBWL does not maintain an outage map online, which is relatively
unusual in this day and age.
The map below is a crowd-sourced tracking of outages and
restorations in the Lansing area. It’s been put together
under the lead of @jsiarto (Jeff Siarto) with the help of
other Lansing area residents and with data pulled in part from
the LBWL Facebook page.
Sources to look for more information –
I wrote up the ice storm of late December 2013 with some maps of the
other damage to the area.
The Lansing Board of Water and Light is a municipally owned public utility,
governed by a Board of Commissioners. The board is made up of eight
Lansing residents, each appointed for a four-year term on the board
by the Mayor and confirmed by City Council.
The Lansing Area Power Outages map is a Google map, and this image
is just a snapshot of it.
News coverage –
WILX-TV – East Lansing Resident Creates Public BWL Outage Map
Unlike Consumers Energy and DTE, Lansing Board of Water and Light doesn’t have a real time outage map for customers, but it’s something the company is currently developing, according to company spokesperson Steve Serkaian.
“We’re working on a “smart grid” system that’s similar to what other utilities offer, but it’s something that costs a significant amount of money to implement,” he said. “But we have heard our customers loud and clear and we’re committed to working on communicating with them better.”
Lansing State Journal – Board of Water and Light: ‘We have heard loud and clear’; BWL promises to review its handling of the ice storm cleanup
(BWL General Manager J. Peter Lark) said BWL is running at “optimum” staffing levels. On Friday, he said, 30 crews were on the ground, a figure that includes 12 line crews and five tree-trimming crews. Crews are made up of two or three people, with most line crews using three.
The utility to date has brought in outside help from five other municipally owned utilities, but Lark said Friday he doesn’t plan to bring in more — at least one BWL employee would have to ride with the outside crew, and that would reduce the number of BWL crews in operation.
Michigan Radio – Most power restored in Michigan, LBWL still has work to do
Most of those still without power are customers of Lansing’s public utility. Angry customers showed up at a company press conference yesterday to complain about the slow repairs. The number of Lansing Board of Water and Light customers without power actually increased yesterday as melting ice from tree limbs damaged more power lines.
Lansing Online News – 5 lingering questions about the Lansing ice storm – yours?
The press conference confirmed communication failures on the part of the officials involved. But when will that get better? Why not now? When will the outages be over? When will the community return to normal? When will the powers-that-be get their act together so people can make wise choices? Temperatures are expected to plunge into single digits tonight. What should people whose power is out do now? Move their families, especially the elderly and infirm, to other locations? Can people with pets still take them to the Ingham County Animal Shelter? When will those who should have the answers start communicating effectively?