More than 140 Consumers Energy employees and contract personnel are responding to a winter storm that left nearly 2 million residents in the Northeast U.S. without power.
Consumers Energy crews, including lineworkers, damage assessors, safety personnel and other field employees, were scheduled to depart the company's Jackson Service Center yesterday.
The Consumers Energy contingent is initially headed for Philadelphia, to assist with PECO utility. The crews expect to begin restoration work later Tuesday.
"We are ready and willing to assist our colleagues out East as they recover from this significant storm," said Guy Packard, Consumers Energy vice president of electric energy operations. "In the past, we were fortunate to be supported by out-of-state crews following major storms. This is an opportunity for us to return the favor to our fellow line workers."
Packard said the decision to release both Consumers Energy employees and about 30 Michigan-based contractors who work on its electric system was made after analyzing weather forecasts. He said enough crews remain in-state to address any future weather related outages. The contractor crews left Saturday and Sunday and are working in New Jersey.
The "Nor'easter" is the same storm which clipped southeast Michigan late last week, with strong winds and heavy, wet snow causing more than 1,000 Consumers Energy customers to lose power for several hours.
Gaining strength as it moved eastward Friday, the storm cut power to 1.9 million customers in the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast and New England regions. As of Sunday, nearly 200,000 customers were still without power, including more than 70,000 PECO customers in the greater Philadelphia area.
Mutual Assistance Coordination
The North Atlantic Mutual Assistance Group, a collection of more than two dozen regional electric utilities, is requesting mutual aid from utilities across the Eastern U.S. Consumers Energy is a member of the Great Lakes Mutual Assistance Group, one of the organizations contacted for assistance.
Lineworkers from 15 different Consumers Energy service centers across Michigan are expected to make the trip. Other employees include zone managers and field leaders, mechanics, damage assessors and safety representatives. The crews are expected to remain out East for up to two weeks. While out East, all of Consumers Energy's costs are paid for by the host utilities.