LANSING – The Michigan Public Service Commission on Monday announced additional details about the technical conference the agency will hold as part of its efforts to address concerns raised after repeated major power outages across the state during extreme storms this summer.
The MPSC’s Technical Conference on Emergency Preparedness, Distribution Reliability, and Storm Response will be held over two days, Oct. 22 and Nov. 5. The aim of the conference is to update Commissioners, MPSC Staff and interested stakeholders on the status of electric reliability and storm response as well as emergency preparedness. In addition, the conference will explore the scale and degree of necessary improvements and ideas on how to achieve the improvements, with a focus on efforts that address environmental justice, equity and cost to customers.
The conference will feature panels and presentations by MPSC Staff and stakeholders including representatives of consumer advocacy and environmental groups, Michigan’s regulated utilities, small businesses, emergency responders, and communities impacted by repeat outages. The conference is open to the public, which is invited to observe the presentations and panels on both days.
The technical conference is designed to gather updated information for the Commission to determine next steps it may take in addressing the power outages over the summer, in particular a series storms Aug. 10-12 with winds exceeding 70 mph that left millions of Michiganders without electricity, some for more than a week.
The conference was announced in August when the Commission established Case No. U-21122, outlining MPSC efforts to effort to expand the data it receives from utilities on their efforts to improve reliability, support more transparency around planning, and increase engagement in how best to prepare and harden Michigan’s electric distribution system to better withstand increasingly recurrent extreme weather. The order addressed recommendations made by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in a letter to the Commission.
Panels will focus on:
- The current status and existing plans utilities have for reliability, including tree trimming, how circuits are prioritized, and potential undergrounding of power lines. The panel also will examine data on costs, storm response, reliability, outage credits, storm response communication and impact on customers, including residential, low-income and commercial and industrial.
- The impact of outages on residential and business customers, critical care facilities, medical emergencies, and first responders.
- Whether regulatory approaches and current solutions to reliability problems are adequate and flexible enough to handle challenges to reliability.
- New technologies and modernization of Michigan’s electric grid.
To stay updated as additional details about the technical conference and speakers are confirmed, go to the MPSC’s technical conference webpage.
The technical conference, initially set to be in person and on one day, will instead be conducted virtually, by videoconference, because of rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in Michigan. There are two ways to participate:
- To observe the conference’s presentations and panels by videoconference, click on the Microsoft Teams conference link.
- Those who wish to listen by phone may call 248-509-0316 and enter the conference ID 461 485 643# when prompted.
Members of the public who are speech or hearing impaired may participate in this conference by dialing 711 and using the Michigan Relay service. Those needing additional accommodations to participate may contact the Commission’s Executive Secretary at 517-284-8090.