Lansing Remembers 2013 Ice Storm

LANSING, MI (WLNS) – “It was stunning then,” recalls Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero.

Over 2,400 lines down, 40 percent of customers hit, the largest of any utility in Michigan’s history.

That left some people without power for weeks and exposed gaps in the Lansing Board of Water and Light’s power outage system.

“It really sort of took the event to say we need to really focus in on this,” said Gen. Mike Mcdaniel, CRT chair.

General Mike Mcdaniel, the man brought in by the mayor to review the ice storm months later would learn it was an outage management system that BWL thought was ready to go, but it wasn’t.

Not having enough crews to respond or lack of people to answer frantic customers.

“We are concerned about our elderly, we’re concerned about our animals, we are concerned about our community,” said Mcdaniel.

“Prior to that storm, the most we lost in customers in our entire history was 20 percent. If I could do it over again, I would’ve liked to been here the entire time,” said Peter Lark, General Manager/CEO Board of Water and Light.

You may remember General Manager Peter Lark was out of town in New York with family when this happened and he says he’s learned from his mistakes.

Reporter: “Have you changed in terms of your role in what you take away from it personally?”
General Manager Peter Lark: “Well obviously I’ve been a lot more aggressive.”

More aggressive by enhancing the number of tree trimming crews, having four ways of communication for customers to contact BWL and knowing if disaster is near, he’ll be close by.

“This year I’m hoping to be in Washington D.C with my grandkids, however, I’m only going for two days and if there is any chance there is going to be an ice storm in those two days, I will not be going to Washington D.C.”

“I think that he wants to make sure that his legacy is not December 22 of 2014, it’s everything after that.”

Changes that are still in the works with a careful eye from Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero.

“If I believe the system isn’t working then I will make recommended changes to the citizens of Lansing,” said Virg Bernero, Mayor of Lansing.

But that doesn’t mean a change in leadership; Peter Lark remains General Manager, making changes to avoid another disaster for BWL customers in the future.

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