Electric Generation

POOP TO POWER: 4 Michigan Farms to Produce Electricity with Anaerobic Digesters for Consumers Energy

Posted on July 22, 2014. Filed under: Company Operations, electric, Electric Generation, Electricity, Environment, Renewable Energy | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Animal waste is the newest energy source to benefit Michigan businesses, customers and the environment thanks to long-term electric generation contracts signed recently with Consumers Energy.

We’re taking steps to diversify our energy supply and help the environment by selecting four Michigan farms to produce renewable energy with anaerobic digesters.

AnaerobicDigester

The following Michigan farms were selected:

HOW THEY WORK: Learn more about the workings of anaerobic digesters: www.americanbiogascouncil.org/biogas_howSystemsWork.asp.

This new program develops dependable, renewable energy produced here in our state for the Michigan homes and businesses we serve. The addition of anaerobic digestion brings more diversity to our existing renewable energy supply from wind, solar, biomass and hydroelectric dams. Learn more about Consumers Energy’s anaerobic digester program at www.ConsumersEnergy.com/EARP.

Consumers Energy developed this new anaerobic digester program along with Michigan State University and the state’s agricultural community. Anaerobic digesters generate electricity from biodegradable material – in this case from four Michigan farms.

The farms will be offered the opportunity to generate electricity under long-term contracts that collectively provide 2.6 megawatts of electric capacity. That’s enough to power about 2,800 homes.

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Variety of Fuel Sources helps Power Michigan with Reliable, Sustainable Electricity

Posted on July 16, 2014. Filed under: Company Operations, electric, Electric Generation, Electricity, Energy Efficiency, Environment, Natural Gas, Renewable Energy, sustainability | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Michiganders across the Lower Peninsula receive electricity from Consumers Energy that is generated through a variety of fuel sources. From fossil fuels to renewable resources, we are committed to providing sustainable energy for a cleaner environment. Environmental Characteristics of Consumers Energy Electricity, April 1, 2013-March 31, 2014

EnvironmentalElectricityHere are the primary fuel sources we use to generate electricity for 1.8 million homes and businesses:

Fossil Fuels – Coal, Natural Gas and Oil

Consumers Energy owns and operates four fossil fuel plants, all certified by the Wildlife Habitat Council. The process of electric generation occurs when coal, natural gas and oil heats water to produce steam—a method that accounts for 70 percent of our electric generating capacity. More than $800 million is being invested to help control air emissions at our fossil-fueled plants in the next few years.

Nuclear

This process of electric generation occurs when uranium atoms split to create heat, which is then used to make the steam. Nuclear energy powers 20 percent of the total electricity to our customers. See how Consumers Energy restored Big Rock Point, Michigan’s pioneer nuclear power plant.

Pumped Storage

Located along the Lake Michigan shoreline, the Ludington Pumped Storage plant is one of the world’s biggest electric “batteries,” and can provide energy at a moment’s notice. It uses a 27-billion gallon reservoir (size of 2 million backyard swimming pools) to turn a set of six turbines that drive electric generators.  Those same turbines double as giant water pumps to fill the reservoir with water from Lake Michigan.

Renewable Energy

From Michigan rivers to wood, wind, solar, biomass and animal waste, renewable energy represents about 8 percent of the fuel mix for our customers. We are on schedule to produce 10 percent of our electricity from renewable sources by the end of 2014. Customers also can choose to get part or 100 percent of their electricity from renewable sources made in Michigan through our Green Generation program.

  • Hydro:  Consumers Energy built 13 hydroelectric plants in the early 20th century. Today, the same plants create enough energy to serve about 70,000 customers. Their turbines and generators convert the energy of flowing water into electricity used in homes and businesses. Michiganders may camp, fish, canoe and enjoy other recreational activity near the hydros scattered on the Au Sable River, Grand River, Kalamazoo River, Manistee River and Muskegon River.
  • Wind:  Generating electricity through wind power is a renewable resource Consumers Energy is proud to invest in. The process occurs when wind turns the blades of turbines, spins a shaft and connects to a generator to create electricity. Our wind farms are located in Mason County and Tuscola County. Each turbine can generate enough electricity for more than 400 customers and there are 40 to 100 individual wind turbines per wind farm.
  • Solar:  Consumers Energy has more than 200 solar power contracts with residents and businesses throughout Michigan. Twenty-two new, diverse solar energy projects were also just selected to continue our efforts. Solar energy is generated when speeding sunlight (called photons) creates an electrical current within a solar panel.

Reducing energy use – In addition to a balanced energy portfolio, we are working every day with businesses and homeowners all over Michigan to reduce their energy use. Michigan residents saved $575 million through energy-efficiency programs through 2013. Learn more at www.ConsumersEnergy.com/save.

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Solar Power is Heating up in Michigan at Consumers Energy with 22 New Projects

Posted on July 3, 2014. Filed under: Business, Community, electric, Electric Generation, Electricity, energy, Renewable Energy, sustainability | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

As the saying goes, if you don’t like the weather in Michigan, wait five minutes and it’ll change. One thing for certain about our four seasons, they all include sunlight and that means solar power.

SolarPanelHouseAt Consumers Energy, we’ve selected 22 new projects offered by businesses and homeowners across the Lower Peninsula to produce solar energy through our Experimental Advanced Renewable Program.

We continue to see a healthy interest in solar energy from the residents and businesses we serve, and we’re pleased to add these to the more than 200 contracts for solar power we already have in place.

We certainly have help from a diverse group of individuals and businesses in developing a renewable energy supply for the future.

Five non-residential projects in four counties were selected. The projects will provide 546 kilowatts of electric capacity, and they range in size from 21 to 150 kilowatts.

Solar projects selected by Consumers Energy include:

Seventeen residential customer projects in 13 counties – Bay, Barry, Clinton, Eaton, Gladwin, Hillsdale, Ingham, Jackson, Kent, Monroe, Newaygo, Ottawa and Washtenaw – also were selected. The projects will provide about 171 kilowatts of electric capacity, and they range in size from 2.5 to 20 kilowatts.

The customers were chosen as part of our Experimental Advanced Renewable Program (EARP). The program provides for the long-term purchase of renewable energy generated by solar energy systems owned by electric customers.

We’re on target to use renewable sources for 10 percent of the electricity we supply by 2015. Those sources include solar and wind energy, biomass, hydroelectric power and anaerobic digestion. A chart showing the environmental sources of our energy and the Midwest region from April 2013 through March 2014 is on the back of July customer energy bills.

The next phase of the EARP is opening for residential customers. Applications must be received by 5 p.m. Aug. 6.

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Drive Safely in Pipeline Construction, Watch for Wind Turbines During Consumers Energy Upgrades in Michigan

Posted on June 27, 2014. Filed under: Community, Company Operations, Economic Development, Economy, Electric Generation, Events, Natural Gas, reliability, Renewable Energy, Rural Development, Safety | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

We’re urging Michigan drivers to be especially aware of crews working alongside the road in St. Joseph and Branch counties this summer and to watch for trucks carrying large wind turbines to our new wind park in the thumb area of Caro, Mich.

RoadsideSafetyConsumers Energy crews work along Michigan roads throughout the year to replace power poles and complete other energy upgrades. This summer, we’re asking drivers to be especially vigilant and exercise extreme caution in roadside work areas. VIDEO: Roadside safety

Southwest Michigan Natural Gas Pipeline

  • We are building the Southwest 1200B Pipeline Project, which will run 24 miles through St. Joseph and Branch counties and complete a 90-mile dual gas transmission pipeline corridor. This will increase value, reliability and safety for Consumers Energy’s 1.7 million natural gas customers.
  • Pipeline construction involves five main phases: Land clearing, trench excavating, pipeline installation, welding and backfilling. Currently, all five phases are taking place simultaneously. Construction began in May and have ramped up in June, which will continue until the project is completed this September.
  • Safety for everyone involved – crews, motorists, landowners and all customers and residents – is our number one priority. That’s why we are asking drivers in the area to be aware of our activities and to slow down and be alert when passing by construction zones, vehicles and roadside workers, and to please observe sign operators’ signals to stop or slow down.

Cross Winds Energy Park

  • Our second wind park is underway and the company is urging safe driving as large equipment is transported on Michigan highways. Billboards promoting safe driving are in place in southeast and southwest Michigan, the entry points for delivery of wind turbine generators, 165-foot turbine blades and Michigan-made turbine towers.
  • The $255 million wind park is being constructed by approximately 150 workers, in Akron and Columbia townships in Tuscola County.
  • The plans for Cross Winds include 62 wind turbines, with a capacity of 105 megawatts when it begins generating renewable energy for Consumers Energy customers in late 2014. View park layout
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Saluting Michigan Teachers on National Teacher Day

Posted on May 6, 2014. Filed under: Community, Education, Electric Safety, Electricity, Energy Efficiency, Events, Natural Gas, Natural Gas Safety, Renewable Energy, Safety | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

“Teachers teach because they care. Teaching young people is what they do best. It requires long hours, patience, and care.”
Horace Mann (1796-1859), education reformist

When it comes to shaping young minds and preparing our future workforce, Michigan teachers are the apple of our eye at Consumers Energy.

On National Teacher Day, we salute teachers across Michigan today and every day for their commitment and dedication. As we say in our business, Carpe Vigorem “Seize the Energy” in education and our communities.

From activities and online games to workbooks and in-classroom presentations, we’re pleased to offer students, scouts, teachers and parents opportunities to stay safe and learn more about energy. Topics include: lesson plans, energy history, careers in energy, renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainability and electric and natural gas safety. We even offer a new Ask an Energy Expert feature.

Check out our education website, called Brain Station.

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Consumers Energy Resumes Construction at Cross Winds Energy Park in Michigan’s Thumb

Posted on April 30, 2014. Filed under: Community, Company Operations, Economic Development, Economy, Electric Generation, Events, Renewable Energy, Rural Development, Safety | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Consumers Energy expects to finish building Cross Winds Energy Park in Michigan’s Thumb this year. The company opened Lake Winds Energy Park in Mason County in 2012.

Consumers Energy expects to finish building Cross Winds Energy Park in Michigan’s Thumb this year. The company opened Lake Winds Energy Park in Mason County in 2012.

As warm weather returns to Michigan, we’re resuming construction of our Cross Winds® Energy Park in Tuscola County in the state’s thumb.

Safety is our No. 1 priority, and Consumers Energy and its contractors are committed to building the renewable wind energy park in the safest manner possible.

  • Akron and Columbia Township residents are receiving a “safety alert” postcard.
  • We’re also urging motorists to be alert for construction traffic in these townships and throughout Tuscola County as many construction materials are coming from throughout Michigan.

Following agreements with the Tuscola County Road Commission, the project includes necessary maintenance, repair and upgrades to several area roads needed for transporting wind turbine components and other construction related materials.

Barton Malow of Southfield, Mich. is the lead contractor for the Cross Winds facility, and will focus on construction of access drives, turbine foundations and electrical systems this spring. Wind turbine components are scheduled to arrive at the Cross Winds site by mid-summer.

About 150 construction jobs will be created during Cross Winds construction. The facility will include 62 wind turbines, with a capacity of 105 megawatts when it begins generating renewable energy for Consumers Energy customers, scheduled for late 2014. Map of Cross Winds Energy Park.

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Consumers Energy Leaving it Better with Statewide Sustainability Efforts

Posted on April 22, 2014. Filed under: Company Operations, Electric Generation, Electric Vehicles, Electricity, Environment, Natural Gas, sustainability | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Consumers Energy is reducing water use at its power plants. Employees Brad Plummer, left, and Marc Owczarak, right, stand at a 100,000-gallon byproduct conditioning water tank at the D.E. Karn Plant near Bay City, Mich.

Consumers Energy is reducing water use at its power plants. Employees Brad Plummer, left, and Marc Owczarak, right, stand at a 100,000-gallon byproduct conditioning water tank at the D.E. Karn Plant near Bay City, Mich.

As America celebrates Earth Day, we’re reducing our environmental footprint through a series of sustainability efforts focused at electric generating plants across Michigan.

By 2017, we expect to reduce water use at Consumers Energy power plants by 17 percent and by 20 percent in 2020.

At the D.E. Karn Plant near Bay City, a project is nearing completion to use recycled water and lime while also improving the environment. This system reflects industry-best standards for the treatment of the plant’s flue gas to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions.

This project is an excellent example of our focus on sustainability and our promise to leave it better than we found it.

The system will be operational this summer. If it proves successful, a similar system will be considered at the J.H. Campbell Generating Complex near West Olive.

Meanwhile more than $700 million in investments at the Campbell site continue to improve air quality and reduce plant emissions. Multiyear projects are scheduled to be complete in 2016.

Our 10-year, $1.3 billion investment in emissions reduction work at Campbell and Karn coupled with other sustainability measures will mean an even brighter future for Michigan’s environment.

We’re also undertaking additional activities to further reduce our greenhouse gas footprint, including:

  • The planned retirement in April 2016 of seven smaller coal-fired generating units; The planned purchase of a natural gas-fired plant in Jackson
  • Plug-in electric vehicle programs
  • A compressed natural gas fueling station and fleet conversions
  • Natural gas pipeline and storage infrastructure upgrades
  • All new buildings being LEED certified
  • Electric grid modernization efforts, including smart meters

Reducing air emissions

Using 2007 as a baseline year, we’re working toward these emission reductions by 2020:

  • Sulfur dioxide , 84 percent
  • Oxides of nitrogen, 72 percent
  • Mercury, 83 percent

We’re also projecting more than a 20 percent reduction in our carbon dioxide emissions by 2020.

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Consumers Energy Developing Renewable Energy with New Anaerobic Digester Program

Posted on March 26, 2014. Filed under: Business, Company Operations, Electric Generation, Electricity, Environment, Events, Renewable Energy | Tags: , , , , , , |

A graphic from the American Biogas Council offers a look at how anaerobic digesters work.

A graphic from the American Biogas Council offers a look at how anaerobic digesters work.

Consumers Energy is looking to farms and other facilities to grow renewable energy in Michigan with a new anaerobic digester pilot program.

Anaerobic digesters generate electricity from biodegradable material such as animal and food waste. The process could be used by agricultural operations, wastewater treatment facilities, and food producers who are interested in learning about turning waste into renewable energy.

In November, we co-hosted an informational forum on the subject with Michigan State University.

We expect to buy 2.4 megawatts of electric capacity from anaerobic digesters selected through this program. It is open to only our electric customers. Applications will be accepted April 1 through June 2.

An informational session for this program will take place at 2 p.m. April 8 at the Henry Center, 3535 Forest Road, Lansing. The session will be webcast for those unable to attend. Learn more at www.ConsumersEnergy.com/EARP.

More renewable energy

SOLAR SELECTIONS: Consumers Energy has selected 19 solar-powered projects offered by Michigan homeowners to supply renewable energy. Projects in 12 counties – Calhoun, Eaton, Genesee, Ingham, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Kent, Lenawee, Midland, Muskegon, Newaygo and Ottawa – were selected.

UPCOMING: An informational session about Consumers Energy’s residential solar program will start at 6 p.m. April 8 at the Henry Center, 3535 Forest Road, Lansing. This event is open to the public and will be webcast. Electric customers, renewable energy installers and anyone interested in customer-installed solar generating systems can attend. To RSVP or for more information, visit www.ConsumersEnergy.com/EARP.

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Consumers Energy to Buy Natural Gas Plant in Jackson

Posted on January 30, 2014. Filed under: Business, Community, Company Operations, Electric Generation, Electricity, Natural Gas, reliability | Tags: , , , , , , |

JacksonPlant

Natural gas combined cycle plant in Jackson, Mich.

Consumers Energy has opted to buy an existing combined cycle natural gas plant rather than build one now, a choice that will save Michigan customers about $500 million.

We reached a purchase agreement with an independent third party to buy a 540-megawatt combined cycle natural gas plant located in Jackson. The sale is expected to close in January 2016, helping offset a projected electric capacity shortfall created by the planned retirement of the “Classic Seven” coal plants in April 2016.

We also will withdraw a Certificate of Necessity filing for a proposed 700-megawatt generating plant in Thetford Township near Flint.

MLive Jackson Story      LIVE CHAT MLive 10 a.m. Jan. 30        

Buying an existing facility equipped with proven technology was the best solution to offset the projected 840-megawatt capacity shortfall created by the retirement of our smaller, aging coal facilities.

  • In addition to the purchase price savings, the Jackson plant — built in 2002 — provides efficiency, flexibility, and a high availability track record.
  • It also will allow us to continue to lower emissions and capitalize on today’s lower natural gas prices to provide customers with value.

We are deferring — not cancelling — plans to build the Thetford plant. Ultimately, we will determine whether developing the project is in customers’ best interests by weighing factors such as market demand, reliability factors, and pending energy policy decisions.

Deferring construction of the Thetford natural gas combined cycle power plant does not diminish our commitment to creating jobs in Michigan. We have pledged to increase spending by $1 billion with Michigan-based suppliers over five years as part of the Pure Michigan Business Connect (PMBC) initiative.

We continue to create up to 1,000 building trades jobs annually as work continues on environmental upgrades and ongoing maintenance at two of our larger coal-fired power plants. In addition, skilled trades will be needed to help dismantle the seven smaller coal-fired units we plan to retire. That dismantling process should start in 2017 and extend over several years.

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Be Safe Around Hydro Dams and Michigan Rivers This Winter

Posted on January 14, 2014. Filed under: Community, Electric Generation, Electric Safety, Electricity, Renewable Energy, Safety, weather | Tags: , , , , , |

5channelswinterWe encourage our Michigan neighbors to be very careful when visiting areas near our 13 hydroelectric generating plants located on the Manistee, Muskegon, Au Sable, Kalamazoo and Grand Rivers.

In particular, watch for thin ice upstream and downstream of the dams. Ice conditions on the reservoirs next to these hydro plants can change rapidly due to unpredictable weather.

Water currents at a hydroelectric plant can be hazardous in winter, when a reservoir may or may not be covered with ice. Ice near a dam is not reliable and should be avoided by snowmobilers, anglers and anyone else.

Ice-covered water downriver from a hydroelectric facility should also be considered very dangerous, and is never a safe place to walk.

Built between 1906 and 1935, our hydros are an important contributor to renewable energy in Michigan and have a combined generating capacity of approximately 130 megawatts, which is enough to serve about 70,000 people.

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