Alderman Bauman blasts We Energies for slow power restoration

NOW: Alderman Bauman blasts We Energies for slow power restoration

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- As of Friday night, 11,000 customers are still without power three days after the storms rolled through, and criticism of We Energies is mounting. We Energies expects to have power restored to 98% of its customers by midnight Friday, but Milwaukee Alderman Robert Bauman says there has to be more oversight and accountability.

Alderman Bauman says We Energies is accountable to no one except a small commission in the state Capitol, unlike the water service which is owned by the citizens of Milwaukee and overseen by the common council and the mayor. And that's why he says there's no way for the people to improve the system, adding it will only come if We Energies decides to do it.

Ald. Bauman says, "Every citizen in Milwaukee is at their mercy for vital services, life-and-death-type services."

Bauman and other critics cite a lack of preparedness, long response times, and poor communication in the days after the storms. "We Energies is an absolute monopoly, I can't switch carriers, can't go to another electric supplier if I don't like the service I'm getting from We Energies."

Bauman says there's little accountability because the city has no jurisdiction over the private company, and there's no one to vote out. But We Energies says it's working as best it can, again citing the magnitude of the storm.

But Bauman says the city is risking catastrophe if things don't improve quickly. "This has always been a disaster waiting to happen. We're getting a taste of what that disaster looks like, this unaccountability environment looks like, in what we've seen in the past few days."

We Energies says nearly 1,000 people are taking part in the ongoing restoration efforts Friday, many of them working 16-hour shifts. A spokesperson says by noon Saturday the company will have restored - or crews will be working on - all customers capable of getting service back.

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