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.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( Comments Off )
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.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( Comments Off )
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.
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.”Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( Comments Off )
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.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( Comments Off )
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.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( Comments Off )
His farm was selected in a lottery as part of nine solar projects planned by six businesses through the program.
The program is rewarding customers for innovating around their businesses while also helping the environment.
A long-term contract with Consumers Energy pays Reenders back 22.9 cents per kilowatt-hour for use of the panels, a higher rate than what customers are charged now.
He paid $99,360 for the project, but between tax credits and a federal grant, the cost shrunk to $47,000.
Annually, Consumers Energy is slated to pay him about $7,000, meaning the project will pay for itself in about seven years.
“I guess you could say I have some stock in solar energy,” he said.
Consumers Energy is the largest renewable energy supplier in Michigan, and through the EARP program, we plan to purchase renewable energy back from 191 customer-owned solar generators.
The EARP program will ultimately total about 6 megawatts of capacity, enough electricity to power about 240,000 incandescent light bulbs at 100-watts each.
Consumers Energy plans to continue adding capacity on a quarterly basis and, if qualified applications exceed available capacity, keep holding public drawings to select customers.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( Comments Off )
When Kristen and Todd Wheeler’s son, Jackson, jumped into the waters of Lake Michigan during a family vacation, the moment was picture-perfect.
A photo of the Wheelers’ then-1-year-old son playing in the water during the family’s annual trip to the lake helped them win Consumers Energy’s first-ever “This is My Michigan” photo contest, designed to spotlight and benefit Michigan communities.
The contest also continues the company’s commitment to engaging in diverse communities statewide.
“This contest illustrates the pride that Michigan residents have for their state, and we were thrilled to be part of that, caring for the Michigan communities we serve,” said Thomas Shirilla, Consumers Energy’s Green Generation program manager.
The company will plant 5,000 trees throughout Michigan in honor of the contest, an extension of the company’s Green Generation program.
The program supports renewable energy efforts by the company. More than 17,000 customers have voluntarily enrolled in supporting additional energy from landfill gas and wind sources.
The family will receive a paid dream vacation in the state for their victory. Nine other contest finalists will receive $1,000 prizes for their photos.
To learn more about the Green Generation program, go to www.greengeneration.com.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( Comments Off )
“One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish.” No matter the number or the color, one thing is for sure. Fish will have an easier time swimming up the Manistee River thanks to new technology from Consumers Energy.
Last August, the company installed an innovative upwelling system behind the Tippy Dam Hydroelectric plant. The system pulls cold water from the depths of Tippy pond, pushing it into the plant’s intake area, where the cooler water flows downstream.
Cold water from the system benefits species like brown trout and Chinook salmon, improving quality of life and making it easier for the fish to reproduce.
Small changes in temperature can make a big difference when it comes to a water habitat, said Mark Tonnello, a fisheries biologist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
The $500,000 project demonstrates the company’s continued commitment to the environment and fulfills state and federal requirements for Consumers Energy’s hydro generating facilities.
The new system also gives Consumers Energy a chance to be “good stewards of the natural resources” across Michigan, said William Schoenlein, manager of hydro and renewable generation and plant manager of Ludington Pumped Storage.
The areas surrounding Consumers Energy’s hydro facilities offer numerous outdoor recreational opportunities, making them the ideal spot for outdoor enthusiasts, Schoenlein said.
In 2012, the company invested almost $650,000 in stream restoration and fisheries research activities, furthering its commitment to upholding and improving Michigan communities.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
Winds whipping through Tuscola County soon will bring renewable energy to Consumers Energy customers in the state. And that means more green energy in Michigan’s thumb.
Through a new contract with GE, Consumers Energy will provide 62 1.7 megawatt capacity wind turbine units for the Cross Winds Energy Park, scheduled to start running late next year.
To put that in perspective, 1 megawatt is equal to 1 million watts. And that’s enough wind energy to power 40,000 incandescent light bulbs at 100 watts each.
And for those using more energy efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs, the new wind turbines will provide even more green energy for Michigan. CFLs use 75 percent less energy and last 10 times longer. A CFL 23-watt spiral bulb is equivalent to a 100-watt incandescent bulb.
Construction on the wind turbine project is expected to create about 155 jobs. The company also is looking to receive federal tax production credits to increase savings for its customers.
The project must receive approval from the Michigan Public Service Commission and other agencies, including Columbia and Akron townships in Tuscola County.
Cross Winds Energy Park will help the company meet state renewable energy standards, carrying on Consumers Energy’s promise to customers.
“Providing renewable energy to Michigan is part of our promise to provide low cost, reliable and environmentally responsible energy for our customers,” said Jack Hanson, Senior Vice President of Energy Resources.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( Comments Off )
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