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Possible Rate Hike Seen as Insult by Some BWL Customers

Those left in the dark by last month’s ice storm say an apology from the head of the Lansing Board of Water and Light doesn’t go far enough. And the news doesn’t end there. Residents affected by the outages will be seeing a break on their bill but can look forward to that bill getting larger–and very soon.

Peter Lark is under fire for leaving town after the storm had hit.  He faced reporters on Thursday claiming the decision to go to New York to visit his son for Christmas was the ‘wrong one’.  He says, though, he kept in constant contact with the company heading up the repair effort but was caught off guard on just how significant and widespread the outages would be.  Lark returned to town on Christmas Day.

He apologized for not meeting the expectations of his customers or employees and says, in hindsight, the decision to leave the area–only for a couple of days–was the wrong move at the wrong time.

There have been a number of calls for his resignation but Lark says he has no plans to resign.   City officials say it is unlikely he’ll be forced to step down. Some say a better punishment than losing his job would be to make him stay in a house for two weeks–like what some customers endured–with no heat and no lights.

Meanwhile, some good and bad news for BWL customers.  Lark will be asking for an additional rate hike–in large part–to cover the cost of increased fees the City of Lansing as part of the budget dea but some will go toward improvements that will bury powerlines.  That is something that could have prevented the massive outages that occured in December.  Lark says it depends on if people are willing to pay for those types of changes.  Plans for the hike were announced back in November and Lark says he has no plans at this point to wait to move forward.

On the up side, though, those affected by the outages will be getting at least some money back.  Those out of service for at least 120 hours will be getting a $25 credit on their bill.  Some are already saying that is woefully inadequate for what they’ve been through.

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