State preps for winter weather

Sep 12, 2019

Michigan has multiple steps it can take to ensure there’s enough energy for homes and businesses if  the state has another polar vortex this winter.

Pyramid Point welcomed visitors last winter before the polar vortex hit Michigan
Credit Noelle Riley / Interlochen Public Radio

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer directed the Michigan Public Service Commission to figure out if Michigan’s energy system can handle the extreme weather. This was after a cold snap across the state resulted in the shutdown of schools, businesses and government offices.

“We have a strong system and we’re well positioned to adapt to the changing energy landscape, but there’s always opportunities for improvements,” says Commission Chair Sally Talberg.

One of those recommendations is to keep the trees trimmed.

“That’s the number one reason why customers experience power outages is trees coming into contact with lines,” says Talberg.

This is part of a larger call to strengthen the state’s energy infrastructure.

Other recommendations include developing more diverse sources of energy across the state, creating a formal backup plan for propane supply and delivery and developing rules for cyber security and incident reporting for natural gas utilities.

Talberg says the commission is working on rules for utilities to follow — but those take about a year to finalize.

The commission also plans to work with the governor and the Legislature to ensure the recommendations are put into action.