BWL Apologizes with Full-Page Newspaper Ad

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Subscribers to the Lansing State Journal woke up to a full-page apology from the Board of Water and Light.

The BWL took out an ad in the paper Sunday to say it was sorry for the way it handled extended power outages following an ice storm, and what it planned to do to prevent future incidents.

Commissioner Dennis Louney said the idea came from General Manager J. Peter Lark and called it a step in the right direction, even if it was late in arrival.

"I think we needed to issue something like this sooner," Louney said. "But I think the beauty of this is we were able to add in some specifics that we are doing that right now have corrected the situation from the crisis it was before."

The utility listed a number of planned and already implemented improvements in the apology, including hiring more workers, a communications firm and a social media manager.

Louney says the lack of communication during the outages -- which stretched nearly two weeks for some people -- is inexcusable.

"This wasn't just inconvenient, this wasn't just difficult, people suffered," Louney said. "We need to acknowledge that and tell them if we presented communication in a way that was inconsiderate or uncaring, we need to apologize for that.

Louney said he didn't think the utility was ill-intentioned. But some of the apologizing may have become lost in the details as BWL scrambled to get specific numbers on line crews and outages.

"That is not the norm here and we don't accept that at the Board of Water and Light," he said.

The specific nature of the letter jumped out to Lansing resident Bill Howe when he read the ad. Howe was without power for five days in the hard-hit Glencairn neighborhood.

"My overall reaction was they were trying to address those problems that they didn't bring enough resources in at first but they're trying to make amends and hope that next time things go much better," he said.

Glencairn resident Brad Ropp said he too appreciated the apology, but it did little to put his mind at ease for the future.

"I am glad that they're trying to take some accountability," he said. "But to be quite honest I think if they would have paid attention to the trees that are growing into lines in the first place, that this wouldn't have happened to nearly the same degree that it happened this time."

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