U.P. crews dispatched to downstate power outages

By Ilsa Matthes

For The Daily News

ESCANABA – Thousands of Michigan residents are still without power following severe ice storms that downed power lines across the Lower Peninsula last weekend. The lights may soon be on again, however, thanks to electrical crews from the Upper Peninsula and northeastern Wisconsin that left Escanaba Thursday afternoon.

“Our group is going to go straight to the Flint area but there are patches (without power) all the way across from Kalamazoo to Flint,” said UPPCO Customer Operations Supervisor Jodi Pineau.

More than 25 trucks carrying line electricians and support staff from UPPCO and its sister company Wisconsin Public Service left the UPPCO service center in Escanaba Thursday afternoon and traveled to the city of Owosso, west of Flint. The assistance was requested by Consumers Energy, which services 1.8 million Lower Peninsula electric customers.

“It’s a pretty common thing when you have this kind of thing happen to reach out to other companies,” said Pineau, noting that neither UPPCO nor Wisconsin Public Service customers would be paying to restore power for Consumer Energy.

About 64,000 Michigan homes and offices remain without power this morning. Utilities expect the power to be restored to most customers by this weekend.