Oscoda County experiences power outages from wind conditions

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OSCODA COUNTY — Power outages due to wind conditions have swept through Michigan over the last 24 hours.

Consumers Energy at 3 p.m. had 186,000 customers without power statewide, according Senior Public Information Director Debra Dodd. She said 204 of these outages were in Oscoda County as of 4 p.m. She said the restoration effort could span into the weekend.

“We have 1,600 employees from the office to the field that are all engaged in the restoration effort,” she said. “But this is probably going to be a multi-day restoration effort given the amount of customers that we have out.”

Dodd said the sustained winds were making it difficult for the company to do repairs immediately.

“We are out there in force, but it’s taking some extra time right now,” she said.

Presque Isle Electric and Gas Co-op also serves some areas of Oscoda County. Maire Chagnon-Hazelman, manager of member services, said the outages in Michigan have been significant.

“The wind is the big culprit here,” Chagnon-Hazelman said. “It knocks those trees down and sometimes it takes down big circuits. Sometimes it’s just these individual circuits.”

PIE&G was reporting a total of 1,212 outages on its website at 4 p.m. Chagnon-Hazelman said many of these were single outages, which are more difficult for the company to resolve.

In Oscoda County, 202 customers were without power through the provider as of 4 p.m. Most of these outages were clustered in Greenwood Township, according to the company’s website.

Chagnon-Hazelman said the company works to get the larger outages taken care of first and then works on the harder-to-reach individual outages.

“Those are the ones that take the longest because you have to go around one at a time for each of those,” she said.

Some outages, especially those in more isolated or hard-to-reach areas, require special equipment or poles. In addition, the nine counties served by the energy provider have reported 16 broken poles, which can also pose a problem.

“Those repairs take a lot longer than (repairing) equipment that may have failed or a small branch being removed,” Chagnon-Hazelman said.

She said the company was going to work through the night and into the next day to resolve individual outages.

Jeff Lutz, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Gaylord, said March 8 that a high wind advisory would be in effect until the evening hours for the area. He said after 7 p.m. the winds would reach 15-20 mph with wind gusts of 30-35 mph.

“By tomorrow morning, at about 7 a.m., winds should be 5-10 mph with gusts of maybe 15 (mph),” Lutz said.

He said the high winds were due to a strong spring storm, which can happen at this time of year.

“It just happens to be one of those years when we have a pretty decent one, bringing a lot of cold air down out of Canada,” he said. “It usually causes winds to speed up somewhere down the line.”

Dodd advised people and pets to stay at least 25 feet away from anything that looks like a downed power line. She said to call 911 or a local utility company to report the downed line and to be mindful of utility workers.

Those using generators in lieu of services are advised not to operate the generator in an enclosed area like a garage or basement, according to Dodd.

“Otherwise you could create a deadly carbon monoxide problem,” she said.

Customers serviced by Consumers Energy can report outages by calling 800-477-5050. Customers serviced by Presque Isle Electric can call 800-423-6634.

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