Electric Generation

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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Consumers Energy Efficiently Entering 2014 with LED bulbs in Grand Rapids NYE Event

Posted on December 30, 2013. Filed under: Business, Community, Electric Generation, Electricity, Energy Efficiency, Events, incentives, rebates, Renewable Energy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

NYE2013BallIt may look the same, but this year’s New Year’s Eve ball to be dropped Tuesday from high above downtown Grand Rapids will use a fraction of the electricity of years past, thanks to new LED bulbs from Consumers Energy.

As part of our sponsorship of the 2014 Fox KIA HOT New Year’s Eve Party, we have replaced the 450 halogen light bulbs used the previous five years with Cree Inc. LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs.

The new bulbs use about 80 percent less electricity than similar halogen bulbs and will last up to 20 times longer. The bulbs are among the energy efficiency alternatives priced with instant discounts at area Home Depot stores. Find a retailer with LED or CFL bulb instant discounts from Consumers Energy.

Helping save energy is our Promise to Michigan, and we’re putting that Promise into action with the new LEDs lighting up the ball.

During the approximately six hours it will be lit, the revamped ball will use a little over 24 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity, compared to 116 kWh in past years. That savings could power 115 active video game consoles for the same amount of time or light 18 average Michigan homes for a day.

In addition to powering the ball drop, we’re sponsoring a warming tent from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. with free hot cocoa, a photo booth, giveaways and information focused on energy efficiency, smart energy and renewable energy, including our Green Generation program. You can share your pledge to save energy in the New Year via Twitter using #2014Promise @ConsumersEnergy.

For more ways to save energy and money in your home or business in the New Year, visit www.ConsumersEnergy.com/save.

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Consumers Energy Ranks in Top Quartile for Sustainability in Utility Industry

Posted on November 15, 2013. Filed under: Business, Company Operations, Electric Generation, Electricity, Environment, Natural Gas, reliability | Tags: , , , , , , |

View our 2013 Accountability Report at http://www.ConsumersEnergy.com/accountability.

At Consumers Energy, we are working hard to leave it better than we found it. Our goal when it comes to sustainability practices is to be here for another 125 years by ensuring that we treat all of our stakeholders — customers, communities, and employees — as long-term partners for our mutual future success.

We learned this month that Consumers Energy performed well against industry peers in sustainable business practices during 2012, ranking in the first quartile when compared to 24 utility companies from around the U.S.

We worked with Sustainalytics to help measure how our efforts rank compared to similar utilities. Sustainalytics scored companies by measuring 68 environmental, social and governance indicators. We benchmarked ourselves against combination electric and natural gas utilities of similar size and generation portfolios.

Sustainable companies generally strive to achieve economic prosperity, social responsibility, and environmental quality. Research shows companies operating in a manner that’s environmentally sound and socially responsible out-perform their peers in the long haul. This is because they tend to weigh more factors, gather more diverse viewpoints and promote transparency when making decisions.

This year we began to establish targets for air emissions and water usage, develop a more sustainable supply chain, and empower employees to make a tangible difference in their communities. We’re also increasing our commitment to buying Michigan goods and services through the Pure Michigan Business Connect to $1 billion.

We are seeking to make decisions and adopt sustainable practices today which consider and safeguard the social, economic and environmental interests of tomorrow’s generation of Michigan citizens. Ensuring that future generations have affordable, reliable and increasingly clean energy is part of our Promise to Michigan.

View our 2013 Accountability Report and learn more about our corporate social responsibility.

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Safety First in Construction of Michigan’s Cross Winds Energy Park in Tuscola County

Posted on October 25, 2013. Filed under: Community, Company Operations, Economic Development, Electric Generation, Electricity, Renewable Energy | Tags: , , , , , , |

GE_Turbines

About 150 construction jobs will be created during Cross Winds construction now and into 2014.

As cooler temperatures set in, a flurry of activity is beginning with construction of the Consumers Energy Cross Winds® Energy Park in Tuscola County.

Safety is top priority as the company expands its supply of Michigan-based renewable energy for its 1.8 million customers. Part of the company’s Promise is working together for safer communities, and a key part of the safety focus is openly communicating about construction activity that residents may encounter.

Akron and Columbia Township residents recently received a “safety alert” post card from Consumers Energy.  The company urges motorists to be alert for construction traffic in these townships and throughout Tuscola County since many construction materials are coming from suppliers located in Michigan’s Thumb, southeastern Michigan and other parts of the state. 

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 and turbine foundations this fall.   

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

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Consumers Energy Releases First-Ever Accountability Report

Posted on October 7, 2013. Filed under: Business, Company Operations, Economic Development, Economy, Electric Generation, Electricity, energy value, Environment, Natural Gas, Rates, Renewable Energy | Tags: , , , , , , , |

AccountabilityReportEmployee

The Consumers Energy accountability report details our efforts to meet Michigan’s energy needs, as we’ve done for more than 125 years.

After more than 125 years of supplying Michigan with safe, affordable and reliable energy, we have issued our first-ever Accountability Report detailing our efforts to continue meeting Michigan’s energy needs.

The 20-page report offers an in-depth look at our performance and commitment to be the best in class among the Midwest’s energy utilities. The report also highlights our commitment to Michigan businesses, as well as our corporate citizenship and role in making the state’s air the cleanest it has been in a generation. Download 2013 Accountability Report

Consumers Energy is committed to making the right, sustainable choices to serve our customers safely and affordably and to act responsibly as a corporate citizen. That means holding ourselves accountable to the highest standards of safety, operational performance and ethical behavior, and complying with all laws, rules and regulations that govern our industry.

Among the report’s highlights:

  • We have been Michigan’s second-leading investor since 2008. Our commitment to increase spending with Michigan-based businesses by $1 billion over five years through the Pure Michigan Business Connect initiative is in addition to the $2 billion the company spends annually in Michigan on goods and services.
  • We are spending $7 billion on renewable energy, environmental quality, energy efficiency, energy reliability and natural gas and electric infrastructure from 2013 to 2017.
  • We are on track to provide 10 percent of our electricity from renewable sources to customers by 2015. We are investing in wind, solar, biomass and hydroelectric renewable energy sources.
  • Giving by the company, its corporate foundation, employees and retirees has more than doubled since 2009, to $10 million in 2012.
  • Air emissions from the company’s generating plants have fallen significantly since 2007 and are projected to continue falling through this decade. Mercury emissions are expected to decrease by 83 percent from 2007 to 2020.
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Senior Wins Top Prize in Student Art Competition with Green Theme

Posted on October 1, 2013. Filed under: Community, Education, Electric Generation, Electricity, Energy Efficiency, Environment, Events, Renewable Energy | Tags: , , , , , |

artprize

“Illusion or Reality? Renewable Energy” Artwork by Daniel Lopez, Grand Rapids Public Schools

Art is SMART for a Grand Rapids area high school senior, who won a $1,000 college scholarship for his abstract painting about renewable energy.

Daniel Lopez, a senior at City High School, was selected from among the top 20 entries in the inaugural Consumers Energy and Grand Rapids Public Schools “SmartArt” competition announced this week as part of ArtPrize. View SmartArt Top 20 entries.

SmartArt stands for “Students Making Art with a Renewable Theme.” And more than 50 entries were initially submitted with a theme of energy efficiency, renewable energy and sustainability.

A large vinyl rendition of the winning art, “Illusion or Reality? Renewable Energy,” is on display outside Consumers Energy’s Ellsworth substation at Monroe Avenue and Fulton Street in downtown Grand Rapids.

Lopez, in his artist statement, said he wanted to create an abstract painting using different colors and images to show different types of renewable energy available.

“The painting as a whole expresses the different available sources that we can use to generate energy and the importance of it to make Earth a better place,” Lopez wrote.

Part of our Promise to Michigan is caring for the communities we serve. And recognizing and supporting today’s young artists helps create tomorrow’s ArtPrize entries.

The second through 10th place finishers, in descending order are: Alexandria Hardy; Isabel Flikkema; Dominic Russell and Rolando Torrez; Kaya Henderson; Morgan Barber; Cindy Xiao; Rohullah Hassani; Erin Eastham and Roxanne Cabrera and Jordan Morrison.

ArtPrize, now in its fifth year, attracts nearly a half million visitors to its more than 160 indoor and outdoor venues in and around downtown Grand Rapids. Time Magazine included ArtPrize on its worldwide list of “Five Festive Events You Won’t Want to Miss in 2013.”

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Kalamazoo College Embraces Renewable Energy, Earns Green Honor from Consumers Energy

Posted on September 27, 2013. Filed under: Business, Electric Generation, Electricity, Environment, Renewable Energy | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

KalamazooCollegeGreen

Consumers Energy names Kalamazoo College as its 2013 Green Generation Customer of the Year.

As Michigan’s oldest college founded in 1833, Kalamazoo College also is demonstrating a commitment to Michigan’s future with a new generation of environmental awareness and sustainability on campus. And thanks to voluntary participation in the Consumers Energy renewable energy program, Kalamazoo College has been named the 2013 “Green Generation Customer of the Year.”

The 1,450-student liberal arts and sciences college purchases 720,000 kilowatt-hours (KWh) of renewable energy annually from Consumers Energy, enough to supply 8 percent of the college’s total electrical use. Kalamazoo College has been a Green Generation participant since January 2009 and is among the top 10 all-time program participants. 

Past Green Generation customer of the year recipients are Irwin Seating, Grand Rapids Community College, University of Michigan – Flint, Dow Corning, City of Grand Rapids, and Wolverine Worldwide.

Consumers Energy’s Green Generation program is available to residential and business electric customers and has nearly 17,000 participants. Launched in 2005, it was the first voluntary renewable energy program in Michigan.

Green Generation has sparked development of several renewable energy projects in the state, including the Michigan Wind 1 park in the Thumb region. Other Green Generation projects include biomass facilities located near Birch Run, Lennon, and Marshall. Consumers Energy also purchases electricity for the program generated by wind turbines near Mackinaw City. All of the projects are located in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula and all sources are Green-e certified as renewable.

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Solar Projects Ready to Move Forward in Michigan

Posted on August 29, 2013. Filed under: Electric Generation, Electricity, Renewable Energy | Tags: , , , , , |

Solar

Consumers Energy is offering a free solar energy information session Oct. 9 in Mount Pleasant.

Solar projects planned by 16 residential customers have been selected to move forward as part of Consumers Energy’s ongoing implementation of Michigan’s energy reform law. 

The random-selection process for these qualified applicants is part of the utility’s Experimental Advanced Renewable Program (EARP).  The program provides for the long-term purchase of renewable energy generated by solar energy systems owned by the utility’s electric customers. 

Residential customer projects in 13 Lower Peninsula counties were selected during this phase of the program. The projects will provide 118.6 kilowatts of electric capacity. Customer projects were selected in the following counties: Antrim, Clare, Grand Traverse, Ingham (2), Ionia, Jackson (3), Kalamazoo, Leelanau, Midland, Muskegon, Newaygo, Ottawa and Wexford.

A new phase of the program also is starting. Consumers Energy is accepting applications from developers that integrate solar energy systems into new home construction. Applications for this phase will be due no later than Sept. 13.

Consumers Energy will be hosting a public information session about the EARP on Oct. 9. This event is open to the public, and electric customers, renewable energy installers and anyone interested in customer-installed solar generating systems is encouraged to attend.

The session will be held from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Three Fires Room at Soaring Eagle Conference Center, 6800 Soaring Eagle Blvd., Mount Pleasant. To RSVP, visit www.ConsumersEnergy.com/EARP.

The meeting will coincide with the opening of the next two phases of the program Oct. 1, for residential and non-residential customers. All application must be received by 5 p.m. Nov. 6.

Consumers Energy’s Experimental Advanced Renewable Program is enabled by Michigan’s 2008 energy reform law. The program currently has contracts in place to purchase renewable energy from more than 200 customer-owned solar generators.

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