Indiana Michigan Power to upgrade power lines, polesPublished 10:25pm Monday, December 5, 2011
Residents in southwest lower Michigan could see fewer power outages next year after Indiana Michigan Power finishes a project that will replace power lines and poles in the area.
Marta Elliott, I&M community relations representative, said the $25 million project will replace 60-year-old wooden power poles with solid steel poles.
“They are sturdier and not nearly as inclined to break during inclement weather,” Elliott said. “This particular area, especially in Three Rivers, has seen more outages than any other I&M district.”
The poles will be positioned higher in the air, Elliott said, making them less susceptible to tree damage.
The reconstruction will take place on a 6.5-mile route between Niles and Buchanan. The project also encompasses 8 miles between Schoolcraft and Moore Park and 14 miles between Three Rivers and Sturgis. About 575 poles and 29 miles of new power lines will be installed.
Elliott said the project will begin next year and continue into 2013.
The reconstruction will “enhance reliability” and give the power poles “better resistance during high winds and lighting strikes, Elliott said.
Rate hike on the way?
Customers also may see their rates increase, as the utility has requested approval for an interim rate increase of $16 million to take effect Jan. 1.
I&M filed documents with the Michigan Public Service Commission to be approved for the interim rate increase. The company filed in July for a larger rate increase, but Michigan law allows utilities to adjust rates on an interim basis 180 days after filing a general rate case if a final decision on the original filing hasn’t been reached.
With the proposed interim rate hikes, a typical residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity a month would see an increase of about $6 per month.
“I&M understands the impact that utility rate increases have on our customers. We are also aware that our customers expect and deserve safe, reliable service,” said I&M president and COO, Paul Chodak III.
“I&M’s job is to keep the lights on, and that includes collecting sufficient revenue to be able to maintain the system so that it remains reliable.”
The filing I&M submitted in July would generate $24.5 million in annual revenue, an increase of 9.72 percent over current rates.
The company serves more than 128,000 customers in southwest Michigan and 580,000 customers total.
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