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Senator Patrick Colbeck’s Newsletter
 

WINDSTORM RESOURCES

Capitol Building

In this edition:

- Windstorm Update
- Warming Center Availability
- Power Outage Resources

- Cybersecurity and Consumer Choice
- Plymouth’s East Middle School Nationally Honored

WINDSTORM RESOURCES

We are putting this month’s e-newsletter out early in order to share important resources and information. We will be sending out another e-newsletter on more topics in the coming weeks.

This week’s unprecedented windstorms have left many people in the 7th District without power, highlighting how even more dependent society has become on electricity. We must continue to “harden” our grid against natural disasters and also not treat cybersecurity as an afterthought. A real cybersecurity disaster would make even our current devastating windstorm outage pale in comparison.

During this outage, look out not only for the safety of yourself but also the safety of your friends and neighbors. On both the state and local governmental levels resources have been activated for people to use, but is difficult considering those without power (and in some cases without phones) will be challenged to receive the outreach. Government will help facilitate a recovery, but everyone needs to share information with their friends, family and neighbors. If you especially know of the elderly or disabled that you think may need special assistance please reach out to them. Use 911 (emergency) or 211 (non-emergency) to help get assistance.

In order to restore power faster, the State has activated its emergency response center and area utilities have called in utility workers from outside of the state for assistance. As previously posted on Sen. Colbeck’s Facebook page, please find a list of local “warming centers” such as these (CLICK HERE).

In our district, some communities have been harder hit than others. Plymouth Township, Livonia, Wayne, and Canton have provided the following information:

The First United Methodist Church -- 45201 N. Territorial Road. This facility is open 24 hours and will provide warmth and basic beverages.

St. Kenneth Catholic Church -- 14951 North Haggerty Road. This facility is open 24 hours and will provide warmth and basic beverages. They can also accommodate small pets.

NorthRidge Church -- 12401 Ridge Road. This facility is open 24 hours. They discourage bringing pets; however they will be providing warmth, basic beverages, and Wi-Fi.

Livonia Recreation Center: Emergency shelter offered for residents of the City of Livonia who are without power. The center has available cots and limited showering available. Residents spending the night must arrive before 9 p.m. Monday to Friday, 6 p.m. on Saturday, and 3 p.m. on Sunday in order to arrange for staffing before closing time. The Recreation Center can also be reached at (734) 466-2900.

The City of Wayne has indicated that the Wayne Community Center (HYPE) at 4635 Howe Road will be offering some hours as a warming station. Call (734) 721-7400 for more information.

In Canton, residents can find a warming center at the township’s Summit on the Park, located at 46000 Summit Parkway and open during regular business hours (including over the weekend). Call (734) 394-5460 for more information.

This list is not complete and is as provided to our office. Additional resources in your area may be available as well. Call your local government office, or simply dial 211 for more information.

An expanded list of major locations incuding outside of the 7th District can be found here:

Warming Centers

Other resources you may find helpful:

Red Cross Emergency Hotline: 800-774-6066

http://www.redcross.org/get-help/prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/winter-storm/frozen-pipes

DTE Energy Customer Service: 800-477-4747
Treat every downed powerline with caution. Even seemingly “dead” lines may be energized and could electrocute you. DTE reminds people to avoid all downed power lines, which once identified are marked with bright yellow tape.

Running a generator? Follow manufacturer guidelines and warnings, operating them outside to avoid the dangerous build-up of potentially life threatening gasses or fumes.

CYBERSECURITY AND CONSUMER CHOICE

Senator Colbeck testified before a packed House Energy & Technology Committee this week in support of HB 4220, a bill that recognizes and respects the rights of utility ratepayers to be able make their own decisions regarding meter choice. This is a property rights issue for homeowners, but also carries important electric reliability, cybersecurity, and safety considerations as well. Sen. Colbeck spoke specifically to these points in his remarks before the committee, which can be viewed HERE.

Senator Colbeck also issued the following press release in conjunction with the hearing:

Sen. Colbeck: Safety and security concerns drive need for smart meter opt-out

Posted on March 7, 2017

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, testified on Tuesday before the House Energy and Technology Committee in support of HB 4220, legislation that would restore consumer protections regarding the type of meters that are installed upon their personal property.

Sen. Colbeck focused his testimony on the safety and security risks inherent with the utilities’ promulgation of smart meter technology. Smart meter technology provides the fundamental building blocks for efforts to make Michigan part of a larger “Smart Grid.” In 2011, James Woolsey, former CIA director, said, “A so-called ‘Smart Grid’ that is as vulnerable as what we’ve got is not smart at all. It’s a really, really stupid grid.”

In support of his testimony, Sen. Colbeck enlisted the support of Cynthia Ayers. Ayers, a nationally recognized cybersecurity expert who currently serves in part as the deputy to the executive director of the congressionally-sponsored Task Force on National and Homeland Security, provided testimony that cyber threats to our electric infrastructure are not mere conjecture. Other nations have been victimized by cyber-attacks that target critical infrastructure such as the power grid. Ayers conveyed that smart meters increase our security risk because, as integral components in a digital network, hackers can use smart meters to remotely shut down power to one or more consumers.

“One of the ways our citizens can secure their own family from such threats to our power grid is to opt out of so-called smart meters and retain analog meters, which have served us well for decades,” Sen. Colbeck said. “Cybersecurity threats today are very real. In fact, the SEC-10K filings for both Consumers Energy and DTE cite cybersecurity as a significant threat that potential investors need to consider before purchasing stock in these companies. Against this increased risk, there is little to no consumer benefit to the adoption of smart meters. The state is doing an insufficient job of regulating our monopoly utilities on this topic in a manner that truly benefits consumers, especially the safety and security of our electricity consumers. Once passed, HB 4220 would return a measure of respect back to our citizens by improving the provisions of law that govern their ability to truly opt out of smart meters.”

Sen. Colbeck also stressed that right now, even today, people are currently without power because of their simple desire to keep an analog meter for their own home. This includes even the frail and elderly, and even during winter conditions.

“We have entire programs set up, subsidized on everyone’s electric bill, to ensure that people keep power during the winter months even if they have not paid their bill,” Sen. Colbeck said. “For some strange reason, the state conversely is telling utilities it is ok to shut off power to people who have paid their bills and want to continue to pay their bills, simply because these people want to control what takes place on their own private property. We can’t let that continue, and we must pass HB 4220 both to give consumers true choice with our monopolistic utilities, and to sever any notions that people must choose between new technology they don’t want and being able to keep the power on for their own property.”

The legislation, similar to an amendment that Sen. Colbeck offered on the floor last year, could receive a committee vote in the near future.

PLYMOUTH MIDDLESCHOOL RECEIVES HONOR

Plymouth’s East Middle School has been honored nationally as a “School to Watch.” You can read more about the award HERE. To receive the honor, the school completed a two-year process during which staff reviewed data, were rated against national rubric, and hosted two site reviews. Eight schools in Michigan earned this accomplishment, chiefly due to the collective efforts of teachers, parents, and students. Congratulations!


We’ll return to our regular full e-newsletter next week. In the meantime, be safe, stay warm, and God Bless.

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OUR DISTRICT

Michigan’s 7th Senate District
 

The 7th Senate District includes Canton Township, Livonia city, Northville city, Northville Township, Plymouth city, Plymouth Township, and Wayne city.

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Senator Patrick Colbeck

201 Townsend St., Suite #3400
P.O. Box 30036
Lansing, MI 48909-7536

Phone: (517) 373-7350

Email: SenPColbeck@senate.michigan.gov
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