J. Peter Lark, General Manager of the Lansing Board of Water & Light (BWL), announced to the BWL Board of Commissioners that all recommendations made by the Community Review Team (CRT) and Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) will be adopted by the BWL. The recommendations, which total more than 180 when the BWL’s internal review is included, were made in response to the December ice storm that knocked out power to 40,000 customers.
“We are grateful for the work of the CRT and MPSC. By adopting their recommendations, the BWL will be much better prepared to respond to another major storm,” said Lark. “Compared to the BWL of December 2013, we are not the same company. Today we are a stronger and better BWL, and we are a BWL that will continue to improve.”
Lark outlined some of recommendations that the BWL has already implemented or is working on:
· Increased crews and staff improve BWL’s ability to restore power faster during outages
o Increased internal spotter crews from 23 to 27
o Contracted for up to 17 spotter crews from an outside contractor
o Tripled the number of tree trimmer crews in the field
o Tripled the number of line crews available during an outage
o Expanded mutual aid agreement in Michigan and across the U.S. to help restore service during major outages
· A more robust tree trimming program on a 5 year cycle will better protect lines from falling limbs
· Improved and stress-tested Outage Management System that is able to record outage calls and provide restoration estimates
· Improved call center operation that will result in a more streamlined customer service experience and faster handling of outage reports
· A social media specialist has been hired to better communicate with our customers
· An emergency operations director will be hired to better coordinate crisis activities
· BWL will participate in the City’s Emergency Preparedness Work Group to be announced soon
· New emergency mast repair and interest free payment program, including BWL approved contractors, will help customers restore power following storms or natural disasters.
· An online Outage Center helps customers find important information about storms and outages
· Creation of an interactive outage map gives customers the information they need when the power is out
· A more robust system that will provide our customers with accurate outage restoration information when they need it, and via multiple communications channels and devices
• More ways the BWL can communicate with and receive important information from its customers using the Internet and mobile communications devices
• Updating its program to identify seniors and customers with medical alerts. This information will be available to government and community officials to perform wellness checks during emergencies.
Lark said he will share details of BWL improvements with neighborhood associations, government leaders, faith-based organizations and human services groups in the coming weeks and months.
“At the end of the process, the BWL will once again have the faith and confidence of our customers and communities. Thanks to the CRT, the MPSC and our own internal scrutiny, the BWL has improved and will continue to improve,” said Lark.
This was printed in the June 15 - June 28, 2014 edition