Photo: Tom Mill;er

The storms this past weekend and the subsequent power disruptions have raised a question again that apparently hasn't been dealt with; should customers get outage credits for the time they're sitting in the dark?

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel Thursday sent a letter urging the Michigan Public Service Commission to require utility companies with smart meters to automatically credit customers’ bills for prolonged power outages. Nessel also recommended the Commission require credits to reflect the length of the outage.

“There is no reason a utility customer with a smart meter should have to endure an outage and then take it upon themselves to apply for a credit from the utility company,” said Nessel.  “The companies know when and where each outage occurred, and they know the length of the outage. Utility companies can and should automatically credit every customer’s account rather than forcing customers to apply for the credit.  That’s just one more hassle for someone who has already been seriously inconvenienced.” -Attorney General's Office release

Here's the law: Michigan utility customers are currently eligible for a $25 outage credit under three scenarios: (1) failure to restore electric service to a customer within 16 hours after an interruption that occurred during normal conditions; (2) failure to restore electric service to a customer within 120 hours (five days) after an interruption that occurred during catastrophic conditions; and (3) repetitive interruptions of the same circuit more than seven times in a 12-month period.

But here's the rub; In all three scenarios, the burden is on the consumer to report the outage and request the credit. We'll see if anything comes of this.