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Michigan storm victims will see smaller power bills — later

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Thousands of Michigan residents who lost power during last month's ice storm are getting jolted by their electricity bills.

Utility customers such as Jennifer Earls received estimated bills because the storm interfered with meter readings.

"It feels as if we are kicked as we are already down," said the 36-year-old Lansing resident who went days without power.

Earl told the Lansing State Journal her $161 bill from the Lansing Board of Water & Light is too high.

BWL and Consumers Energy officials said they are using estimated readings for many bills because the ice storm disrupted the utilities' ability to get the accurate meter readings typically used to calculate monthly bills. When they can't get those readings, the utilities in some cases rely on estimates that largely are based on usage for the same month the previous year.

Lower bills should be on the way, though, in the coming weeks. Crews have resumed meter readings, and the utilities expect to issue more accurate bills in the next cycle that will reflect reduced charges for those who went without power.

"We are receiving a number of inquiries, and we are attempting to respond to them from our customer service and Facebook," said Lansing Board of Water & Light spokesman Steve Serkaian. "Customers ... will have a more accurate bill in the next bill and any appropriate cost reduction."

Nearly 77,000 people lost power in the Lansing region — some for up to 11 days — following the Dec. 21-22 ice storm.

On both BWL's and Consumers Energy's bills, it states whether the bill amount is actual or estimated.


Information from: Lansing State Journal,

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