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Lost power in the ice storm? Consumers hopes to keep that from happening again

LIVINGSTON COUNTY — Consumers Energy is taking steps to improve electric reliability and decrease the number of customers that lose power at once.

Last week, Consumers announced the addition of 123 Automatic Transfer Reclosers across the state. Right now, the company has 470 of the 800-pound devices. According to a press release, the deployment plan will target areas that’ve been most impacted by widespread outages over the past several years — including Livingston County.

“These are state-of-the-art new technologies that can help prevent power outages on our power grid,” spokesperson Josh Paciorek said.

“When these ATRs are installed on the power grid and a storm comes through with 60-70 mile-an-hour wind gusts, and let’s say that storm knocks a tree down onto a power line that has an ATR, the ATR will isolate where that problem is and detect that (it’s) no longer able to get the power it needs. … It’s programmed to tell itself to go find power from another source.”

“Instead of, let’s say, 1,000 people on a circuit being without power, that ATR is isolating it to the smallest number of customers possible, so that our crews can go fix it, but everybody else’s power will stay on,” Paciorek said. “It’s all about automation and trying to limit the number of customers that are impacted when these outages do happen.”

For people in Livingston County who lost power for almost a week this winter, Paciorek said, these ATRs will make a difference.

“We know customers are asking for a stronger and smarter power grid. By focusing on tree trimming, upgrading our electric grid, and using automation and other technology to quickly detect and resolve problems, we can drastically improve the electric grid and make it more reliable for all our customers,” said Vice President of Electric Operations Chris Laird.

The majority of the ATRs are expected to be complete and online this summer.

Consumers is Michigan’s largest energy provider, providing natural gas and/or electricity to 6.7 million of the state’s 10 million residents in all 68 counties in the Lower Peninsula.

— Contact reporter Patricia Alvord at palvord@livingstondaily.com

Picture – James Bannister, a subcontractor for Consumers Energy, uses a bucket truck to clear trees from the powerline along M-99 in Eaton Rapids.

Robert Killips/File

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