STATEWIDE — Consumers Energy and its contractors are responding to calls for post- Hurricane Sandy power restoration assistance by sending more than 300 workers to numerous locations in the destructive storm’s path, from metro Detroit to the East Coast.
Early Thursday morning, 30 employees from across Consumers Energy’s service territory will leave Dundee for Cleveland to assist First Energy with wide scale power restoration efforts. (News Editors: Please see details of Thursday morning’s departure, below.)
The Consumers Energy employees headed to Ohio include 10 line worker crews, support personnel, specialized equipment and supervisors. They will remain in the Cleveland area for approximately 10 days. According to published reports, as of Wednesday morning, First Energy had approximately 200,000 customers without power in the Cleveland area because of winds from Hurricane Sandy.
In addition to the employees heading to Ohio, Consumers Energy sent a similar-sized group to DTE Energy’s Detroit Edison service territory in southeast Michigan Wednesday to assist with power restoration efforts. The crews will remain in the Detroit area for several days.
Wednesday’s crew movements were the latest decision Consumers Energy has made this week to provide assistance related to Hurricane Sandy.
Sunday, Consumers Energy sent 14 engineering support personnel to assist First Energy’s Potomac Edison Company in the Hagerstown, Md. area with electric equipment damage assessments. In addition, the utility released 160 contract workers specializing in electric distribution line repair and tree and debris removal to assist First Energy and National Grid utilities.
Wednesday, the company released 30 additional contract crews, totaling another 90 workers, to head east to assist in Hurricane Sandy restoration efforts.
“Hurricane Sandy’s immense size and strength disrupted electric service to more than 8.6 million people from west Michigan to the Atlantic coast,” said Garrick Rochow, Consumers Energy vice president of energy delivery. “We are glad to be able to help our fellow utilities in this massive undertaking to safely restore power.”
Rochow said the decision to send company crews to assist elsewhere came only after Consumers Energy completed restoration efforts to the more than 37,000 customers who lost power Monday and Tuesday across Michigan because of high winds from the storm’s western edge, which stretched hundreds of miles wide.
“Our customers here in Michigan are our highest priority, and I am proud of the work our men and women did this week to get power restored safely and quickly,” Rochow said. “Since we knew the storm was coming, we had crews on duty around the clock Monday and Tuesday. That rapid response now is allowing us to help elsewhere.”
“While we are reaching out to assist those most affected by Hurricane Sandy, our customers can rest assured we have adequate staffing here in Michigan to address any issues,” Rochow said.
Consumers Energy, the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), provides natural gas and electricity to 6.8 million of Michigan’s 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties. — G.G.