The Marquette Board of Light and Power was founded in 1889 and maintains approximately 350 miles of Electric Transmission and Distribution lines over a service territory of 250 square miles. Our 16,500 customers are located in one of the most beautiful parts of Michigan surrounded by forests and bordered by Lake Superior. Our electric system can be subjected to major storms that can cause wide spread damage to the system resulting in customer outages. Also, accidents can cause disruptions to our customers along with wildlife contacts.
When an Outage Occurs
First we ask customers to check their breaker box panel(s) to make sure the problem is not on the customer's side of the meter. If the problem persists call the MBLP 24 hour emergency line at 228-0300. MBLP personnel staff this number 24 hours a day throughout the year. Don't assume that your neighbors have called to report the outage. MBLP personnel may also know the problem is occurring by viewing our SCADA and Outage Management Systems. This technology helps the MBLP assess and restore service to our customers in a more efficient manner. Our AMI system enables our employees to verify that power is restored to all customers before we leave the area.
Customers are asked not to call repeatedly at short intervals as this only disrupts the restoration process and unnecessarily ties up emergency phone lines for our other customers. Repeated calls can cause a disruption to the call center and can present a hazard to our personnel in the field when lines are tied up. Although rare some events can last for long durations and the MBLP will be working on the problem 24 hours a day until all of our customers have been restored. Information on the outage extent and progress may be displayed on our website at www.mblp.org.
If the customers home is damaged or equipment becomes unsafe to connect the Board will disconnect the customer's service until repairs have been made in accordance with State and County codes and requirements. If inspections are required we cannot re-connect service until we receive notice of approval from the proper authorities.
How We Respond
The MBLP has a Line Technician on call 24/7 throughout the year. On weekends we have an additional Line Technician on call to assure a quick response to any outage that may occur. Our on call personnel are equipped with an emergency response vehicle and report directly to the site of the outage. Our 10 year average response time from receipt of call to arrival at the outage location is 23 minutes. The first step for any outage event is to assess the system, make the area safe and then begin repairs. When a major storm or disaster occurs the MBLP has mutual aid agreements with other utilities across the state of Michigan and across the country. This allows us to bring in outside resources if the damage to the system is extensive. When a major storm results in wide spread system damage we prioritize by the following criteria: Transmission lines and substations are first to be repaired, next are the main feeders, primary tap lines, secondary lines and finally individual services. We concentrate on repairs that will restore the largest amount of customers first. We do have priority restoration for critical facilities such as Medical, Police, Fire and Emergency Response Services.
Our foremost concern in an outage is employee and public safety. Assume any downed wire is energized and keep yourself and others away. You don't have to actually touch the wire to become injured as energy flowing into the ground can create a hazardous condition known as step potential. Do not attempt to remove any downed limbs or branches from power lines.
Being prepared in the event of an outage can make the situation less inconvenient. A few simple steps can go a long way in making the best of the situation; of instance:
- Keep flashlights handy including spare batteries.
- Always have access to a phone that does not require power to operate, like a cell phone or landline not requiring power.
- Have candles and matches available.
- Have water and non-perishable food items available to last a minimum of three days.
- Keep freezer doors closed as a half full freezer will generally keep items frozen for a 24 - 36 hour period. Have coolers and ice available if the outage lasts longer.
- Have a wind up or battery powered clock.
- Unplug appliances and use surge suppressors to avoid damage from any surges as the outage is restored.
- Become familiar on how to open your garage door manually.
- Keep emergency supplies available in the event of a prolonged outage.
- Persons with life-sustaining equipment that use power to operate should have a plan including backup batteries, back up generation or an alternate site to relocate.
Customers who have emergency generators should operate them in a manner that isolates it from the MBLP system. Severe injury or death can occur if the generator is improperly connected. Damage to the generator and home can occur when the power is restored. Customers interested in installing and using emergency generators are urged to contact the MBLP Meter Department at 228-0302 for information on how to properly install and connect the generator.