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Focus On Public Safety Following Severe Storms Results In Estimated Bills For Some Consumers Energy Customers

JACKSON, Mich., Nov. 22, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Consumers Energy's focus this week on customer safety and power restoration will mean some customers across Michigan will receive monthly statements based on an estimated meter reading.

Severe storms and winds gusting more than 60 mph Sunday and Monday cut power to more than 300,000 Consumers Energy customers and led to many downed wires across Lower Michigan. Gas and electric meter readers, other Consumers Energy employees and, when needed, local public safety officials, guard the downed wires until Consumers Energy can disconnect electricity and make the situation safe.

Guarding downed wires and keeping the public away from them is a critical safety role in the early hours and days of a storm.  Downed electric lines may look harmless but can be deadly.

As a result of the storm, approximately 100,000 residential and business customers with gas or electric meter readings scheduled Nov. 18-22 may receive estimated meter readings on their November bills which are now arriving by U.S. Mail and by e-mail for eServices customers.

"The safety of the public and our employees is always our top priority, especially after this week's catastrophic storms," said Garrick Rochow, the utility's vice president of customer operations and quality. "Our meter readers met the challenge of protecting the public and we thank them for a job well done."

The more than 300 meter readers were part of more than 2,600 Consumers Energy and contract employees from eight different states who have worked since Sunday to restore power. All power is expected to be restored by late Friday. The storm was the company's largest, in terms of customer interruptions, in more than five years.

A customer's estimated meter reading will be based on their recent energy usage and weather data. Typically, monthly bills reflect energy use based on an actual meter reading. If a customer receives a statement based on an estimated meter reading this month, their actual usage will be reconciled with the next actual meter reading. Customers on the company's Budget Plan will not be affected by an estimated read and will continue to pay their equal monthly amount.

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