By Sen. Dan Lauwers
25th Senate District
Senate Energy and Technology Committee Chair
In recent weeks we have seen genuine, heartfelt thank-you’s and spontaneous applause for Michigan’s health care workers on the frontlines tending to patients affected by COVID-19, and rightfully so. We also thank grocery store, food service and delivery employees for keeping us fed while we stay safe at home.
I want to bring focus to our state’s utility workers, another group of essential personnel who have worked through storms, and a pandemic, to keep the power on in our homes.
I am impressed with the way our utilities and municipal organizations are working together to protect Michigan residents. Our utilities meet virtually, every week, to discuss the weather outlook and potential storm response plans and are committed to working together to restore power wherever the storm damage occurs.
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We should be especially proud of the energy company employees who must work in the field or at electric generation facilities, control rooms and compressor stations to ensure the safe delivery of electricity and natural gas. These employees are putting the needs of their communities first by ensuring that power is delivered to hospitals, police and fire stations and to the millions of homes where residents are working and safely sheltering.
Amidst it all, we should acknowledge the way Michigan’s utilities immediately stepped up to help when the COVID-19 outbreak started. When Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced her Stay Home, Stay Safe executive order, Michigan’s energy companies had already assembled crisis response teams and were rolling out new work rules, personal protective equipment and cleaning practices to keep employees and the public safe.
In addition, all of our utilities established programs to help keep the power on for customers facing medical or financial difficulties during the coronavirus pandemic. Michigan’s utilities are promoting simple steps that customers can take to conserve energy, offering budget billing to smooth out monthly payments, and providing access and information to energy assistance resources available through the state or federal government, local foundations, business associations and community organizations. Residents can apply for State Emergency Relief for their utility bills at NewMiBridges.michigan.gov or by contacting their local Department of Health and Human Services office.
We often take the energy we receive that powers our homes every day for granted. It costs less than most of the commodities in our monthly budget, and it’s so reliable and effortless, we rarely give it a second thought. But as we work through this pandemic, I want to thank everyone associated with our gas and electric services for keeping us plugged in, warm and safe.
Senator Dan Lauwers, R-Brockway Township, is chairman of the Energy and Technology Committee. He serves the residents of the 25th Senate District, representing the counties of Huron, St. Clair, and Sanilac, as well as Armada Township, Memphis, New Baltimore, Richmond and Richmond Township in Macomb County. He can be reached at 517-373-7708 or SenDLauwers@senate.michigan.gov.