Milwaukee alderman wants city energy independence for emergencies

NOW: Milwaukee alderman wants city energy independence for emergencies

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Milwaukee First District Alderman Robert Bauman said events like recent Milwaukee storms, and hurricanes across the country, show that public utilities can't stand up to today's severe weather.

"We can't depend on these utilities anymore," Bauman said. They're not accountable to the public. We have to go it alone."

Bauman was critical of how We Energies handled power restoration after August storms. We Energies says they are accountable to the Wisconsin Public Service Commission, and they think they did a good job on their largest restoration effort ever.

"Our crews are veterans of tornados, restoring power after blizzards, restoring power after hurricanes," We Energies Media Relations Manager Brendan Conway said. "We restored power to 240,000 customers in less than four days."

The full storm cleanup is still ongoing. The Milwaukee Department of Public Works said they received more than 3,200 calls for service, and they still have 7 percent of their tree removal left.

"This is an unprecedented type of a storm event, and we have a certain amount of capacity with the staff that we have," MPW Commissioner Jeff Polenske said.

Bauman said Milwaukee should move toward energy independence for emergencies and have plans to give those in need a public space.

"Where do we house people if it's 10 below zero? Where do we feed people if kitchens are shut down? Well, public schools would be a good place to start because there's a lot of them. They're big. They're made to hold a lot of people."

Bauman wants to consider mandating all new residential construction in Milwaukee have a backup power source. 

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