Sep 5, 2023 - News

Michigan has the Midwest's most power outages

Data: U.S. Energy Information Administration; Chart: Axios Visuals

DTE and Consumers Energy customers experience some of the worst power outages in the country, according to the latest available data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The intrigue: Michigan's power outage rate is double the national average. The average Michigan electricity customer experienced 14.6 hours of outages in 2021, data shows.

  • That's the sixth-highest outage rate in the country behind West Virginia and Mississippi.
  • The average U.S. electricity customer experienced 7.3 hours of power outages in 2021.
Data: U.S. Energy Information Administration; Chart: Axios Visuals

Why it matters: Electricity outages stand to become more common as extreme weather events — many driven by climate change — wreak havoc on the country's aging power infrastructure.

The latest: State regulators with the Michigan Public Service Commission last week said they will increase the scope of an audit of the state's energy companies that was announced last year and are weighing proposals to punish the companies, including financial penalties for repetitive outages.

  • The latest incident of widespread power outages happened on Aug. 24 after a major storm generated seven tornadoes across southern Michigan, knocking out power to around 500,000 customers and leaving some without power for five days.

What they're saying: "We share the public's frustration with the number and duration of power outages, and particularly those who experience outages over and over again," MPSC chair Dan Scripps said in a statement.

  • "By focusing on the places where improvement is needed most, we're working to better connect the financial performance of the utilities with the experience of their customers."

Zoom out: The nationwide average of outage hours has been trending upward over the last several years, beginning with a notable spike in 2017 driven by outages following Hurricane Irma.

  • The average Louisiana electricity customer experienced a staggering 80.2 hours of downtime in 2021, trailed by Oregon (24.8 hours) and Texas (19.6 hours).
  • Washington, D.C. (0.9), Delaware (1.1) and Florida customers experienced the fewest hours of downtime.
  • Michigan has more outages than any state in the Midwest, as Wisconsin (5.2), Indiana (4.7), Ohio (4.1) and Illinois (2) trail far behind.

What's next: The MPSC is seeking feedback from the public and relevant stakeholders on the proposals through Sept. 22.

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