Power surges cause problems at downtown Plainwell businesses

By: 
Daniel Pepper

Plainwell businesses on South Main Street are seeking answers as to why a power surge happened Sunday, Oct. 15, knocking out equipment and causing damages in the hundreds of dollars in some places.
Plainwell city manager Erik Wilson said he and economic development manager Denise Siegel were working with businesses and trying to get answers from Consumer’s Energy.
“I’ll be working with Consumer’s to see if we can work that out,” Wilson said. “We had some power surges in the industrial park a few years ago.”
He said eight or nine business had contacted the city about it.
Plainwell Flowers co-owner Pam Porritt was one who estimated about $800 in damages to her business, which lost the cash register/inventory system, the lights in the cooler and the flower shop’s open sign.
“This seems to happen every year-and-a-half to two years,” Porritt said
The last occurrence was worse, she said.
“We lost two furnace control panels and the refrigerator in the apartment above,” Porritt said.
She’d heard another business had suffered even worse, not being back to normal for at least six days afterwards.
The surge came at a bad time.
“We had to run the credit card, run down the basement to the computer there on every transaction and then back up,” she said. “And we had one of the busiest weeks we’ve ever had, outside of Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day.
“I got a lot of exercise, so I guess there’s a good side to everything.”
Porritt said she thought it was outside of the business district, too.
“When this is happening to so many people,” she said. “A customer came in and asked what’s happening with the electricity. It’s the whole neighborhood, something’s going on.”
Previous surges had been blamed on lightning, she said, but there was none seen Oct. 15.
Porritt said she was glad the city was helping out and she thought other businesses were too.
“We’re pretty happy Erik willingly and even suggested he handle this for us,” she said. “We were really appreciative.”
Contact Dan Pepper at dpepper@allegannews.com or at (269) 673-5534.

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