I just want to take a minute to brag a little. It’s my column, so I reserve the right to use it any way I want.
As I write this on a frigid Monday morning in late February, our electric crews and several contract crews are braving the bitter cold (it’s 14 degrees with a wind chill of -2 degrees) to work on outage restoration. Many of them left their homes and families on Sunday morning as sustained wind gusts in excess of 50 miles per hour pounded our southwest Michigan service territory, ultimately leaving about 1300 customers in the dark. With ten broken poles and downed trees and wire all over the territory, they’re facing a long Monday to get all service restored.
Less than two weeks ago a major ice storm hit our southeast Michigan service territory, leaving about 1400 without power. With ice as thick as two inches on some of our power lines, we ended up with 15 broken poles and a whole bunch of downed wire. Everyone was restored inside of two days.
A week prior to the ice storm, we had an unusual set of circumstances result in a Wi-Fi disruption for about 6000 of our fiber internet customers. It was all hands on deck in our call center as we took thousands of calls and helped folks reset their routers.
Oh, and let’s not forget late January’s polar vortex when we faced several days of sub-zero temperatures and historically low wind chills. Our propane team didn’t miss a beat and worked hard to ensure that our customers were safe and warm as Mother Nature put on the big freeze.
It’s been a tough month, and I couldn’t be more proud of our family of 130 employees and how they rose to the occasion over and over again. And it’s not just the field staff who are braving tough conditions. The majority of our work is behind the scenes, including answering phones, creating work orders, documenting capital and other storm-related costs, managing inventory and allocating equipment, monitoring Facebook and responding to media inquiries, and arranging meals and hotel accommodations. And because we are local, many of our own employees also found themselves without power during the storm-related events.
It’s not unusual for our team to step up and provide you with the best possible service experiences; that’s just a quality that is part of our collective DNA. However, for one solid month in early 2019, we were put through the wringer. Many of our customers offered heartfelt thanks and encouragement during these tough situations, and those comments kept us going. I just want to add my personal and sincere thanks as well. I’m beyond honored to work with such an amazing and committed team.