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Michigan public power utilities rally to help each other in wake of storms and outages

June 22, 2020 – Paul Ciampoli, American Public Power Association 

In the wake of severe storms that recently hit parts of Michigan, several public power utilities rallied to help each other with power restoration efforts.

During the week of June 8, storms with strong winds hit the public power communities of Holland and Zeeland, Mich., hard.

In response, the Zeeland Board of Public Works (BPW) called for assistance on Monday, June 8, and Tuesday, June 9.

On the evening of June 8, Steve Bruinsma, Electric Distribution Superintendent at the Holland Board of Public Works, moved to assist Zeeland by procuring a transformer that a customer needed in order to get themselves back in operation.

Bruinsma didn’t hesitate to offer to return to work to help find the transformer and assisted the crew with loading it, noted Julie DeCook, Communications Specialist at Holland BPW.

On the evening of June 9, Zeeland called for assistance again to assist with severe storm damage. Zeeland had 10 poles come down that had two circuits of hendrix on them.

In response, Holland BPW sent six linemen, trucks and even some poles. These crews worked through the night in humid, rainy and windy weather.

Zeeland expressed sincere appreciation as they could not have restored all of their customers so quickly without the help, DeCook said. “Zeeland also appreciated that our electric distribution leadership continued to stay in touch throughout the week to see what other help might needed between the two utilities,” she noted.

On Wednesday, June 10, both Holland and Zeeland suffered another round of significant amounts of storm damage due to 70 mph winds. Holland BPW had 24 outages affecting about 900 customers. Many were associated with small numbers of affected customers. The outages were spread out and many were back lot lines, which made for a challenging restoration.

“Grand Haven Board of Light and Power sent a line crew in response to our own mutual aid request, and even sent a tree trimming crew to help with the cleanup on Thursday, which we greatly appreciated,” DeCook said.

“Our team was dedicated to bringing our customers up as quickly as possible. Even those who worked Tuesday night were committed to resolving all of the outages. As always, leadership kept health and safety as the top priority and sent crews home to get rest,” she said.

“Our other crews stayed into the night to get as many customers back up as possible. All crews returned to work in the morning and successfully resolved all Holland BPW outages by Thursday afternoon,” DeCook noted.

“Because of the mutual aid assistance between our utilities, we were all able to get all customers back up and running in about a day,” said DeCook. Grand Haven, Zeeland and Holland are always working together concerning equipment needs or outage help when those times arise. “This is a great example of the benefits of public power.”




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