We Energies: Power to be restored to 98% of customers by midnight

We Energies: Power to be restored to 98% of customers by midnight

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- We Energies on Friday, Aug. 13, said they've made significant progress to restore power to customers in southeast Wisconsin. The company said this is the largest mass restoration effort in We Energies' history. 

"The damage was just significant, so we relied on all of our crews," We Energies spokesperson Allison Trouy said. "Everybody has been working extremely long hours. It's much nicer today, but in that high humidity and heat, working 16-hour days. We also called in assistance from our sister utility Wisconsin Public Service."

We Energies said they now expect to have restored 98% of all customers impacted by the storms by the end of the day Friday, and by noon on Saturday they will have restored, or crews will be working on, all customers capable of receiving service impacted by Tuesday’s historic storms. We Energies said the last few customers usually take the longest. They can often restore power to thousands with one fix early in the process.

"Now one outage is only affecting 20 customers, 30 customers," Trouy said. "So we are getting there. We are working as hard as we can."

As of Friday morning at 9 a.m., nearly 19,000 remained without electricity. 

We Energies says almost 1,000 people are taking part in the restoration effort Friday, many of them working 16-hour shifts. 

All major lines have been restored and we are now in a phase of restoring single customer, by single customer.

Keep track of the We Energies Outage Map here

Some Milwaukee leaders were not impressed with We Energies' effort. Milwaukee Alderman Robert Bauman noted the elderly and nursing home residents stranded on upper floors in extreme heat without power.

Bauman released the statement: "Customers cannot take their business to a different electricity supplier. They are at the mercy of We Energies, an absolute monopoly accountable to no other than an obscure regulatory agency in Madison known as the Public Service Commission, which is headed up by unelected, politically-appointed part-time commissioners who are largely beholden to the shareholder owned utilities they supposedly regulate."

Milwaukee Alderman Michael Murphy said We Energies worked fast enough, but they need to do a better job updating customers on their progress.

"They have a lot of food in the refrigerator," Murphy said. "They have to make arrangements to maybe get a hotel room when the weather is over 90 degrees, and more importantly, I have a lot of elderly and some very ill citizens, who rely on electricity to survive."

Murphy suggested having a backup call center and additional operators for emergencies. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said communication is a concern.

"I know that they have a site there at WeEnergies.com where you can see, or expect to have that power returned," Barrett said. "Now the problem is, if you don't have access to the internet that makes it that much more difficult."

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