Always On: A Day in the Life of a Consumers Energy Electric Construction Field Leader

Posted on August 27, 2014. Filed under: Company Operations, Consumers, electric, Electric Generation, Electric Safety, Electricity, employee, energy, In Your Community Q&A, reliability, Safety, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

Darrell Browning, a Consumers Energy Electric Construction Field Leader, doesn’t go to work for the money and status. It’s his commitment to serving others, problem solving and helping people reach their full potential that drives Browning to work hard every day.

Browning’s Background

Darrell Browning’s life purpose wasn’t always this clear. Growing up just outside of Detroit in the inner city of Mount Clemens, Mich., he was the youngest in a household of eight with one income. Although financially times were tough, his parents always made sure their family had what they needed to get by.

Browning also struggled with insecurities that prevented him from fitting in with other kids in school. Because his family couldn’t afford braces, Browning grew up with a negative self-image, resisting speaking up or even smiling. He also battled attention deficit disorder (ADD), which at the time wasn’t recognized as a disorder. His lack of attention span led to poor academics and increased discipline from those around him.

It wasn’t until adulthood that Browning’s mindset changed. He learned he had no control over the life he’d been given and if he didn’t become confident and accept who he was, he’d never reach his full potential and discover his purpose in life.

Check out a behind-the-scenes look at a Consumers Energy Lineworker Trainer!

Advice from Darrell Browning

Browning wants to encourage others to let go of their past and know everything they’ve gone through was meant to shape them into the people they are today. His tips include:

  • Understand it’s okay to be different—we’re all different
  • Stop comparing yourself to others
  • Surround yourself with people who help you grow
  • Accept challenges
  • Focus on developing yourself at your own pace and learning style
  • Seek out your strengths and build on them

Working for Consumers Energy, Browning has been able to exercise his personal values by treating people with the utmost respect. He demonstrates commitment, honesty and integrity to defuse any conflict for effective communication. Browning’s leadership increases the reliability of a job well done at Consumers Energy and we’re proud he shared his experiences.

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Always On: Day in the Life of a Consumers Energy Lineworker Trainer in Michigan

Posted on August 12, 2014. Filed under: Company Operations, Education, electric, Electric Safety, Electricity, employee, reliability, Renewable Energy, Safety | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

José Rivera Fuertes Jr. is a Consumers Energy Electric Employee Development Consultant who trains entry-level apprentices, journeymen lineworkers and lineworkers-in-charge at the Marshall Training Center. Fuertes teaches the necessary skills needed to perform efficient electrical work like splicing cables and fixing transformers in the safest possible way.

Marshall Training Center: The Stats

Consumers Energy’s Marshall Training Center was rebuilt in 2008 and includes:

  • 5 acres of land which contains poles, electric lines and transmission systems for training
  • A main building with six large classrooms and three labs
  • An indoor training area with 23 training poles and an underground substation vault
  • A renewable energy center
  • Two wind turbines and a fixed-panel solar array which power the Marshall buildings and are used to teach renewable energy to trainees

LEED Certified to Lead the Way

The Marshall Training Center is also built with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards, part of our environmental commitment. This means the buildings use materials, energy and other resources more efficiently like:

  • Carefully positioned skylights
  • Sensors that trigger lights on and off when people use training classrooms
  • An advanced insulated design that includes renewable and recyclable materials

Check out more information on Consumers Energy’s environmental commitment.

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Always On: Day in the Life of a Consumers Energy Senior Project Manager

Posted on July 30, 2014. Filed under: Community, Company Operations, employee, energy, energy value, Natural Gas, Natural Gas Safety, reliability, Safety | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

For Jim Sunday, there is no average day as a Consumers Energy Senior Project Manager I. Rain or shine, Jim enjoys his exciting job regulating the Southwest Michigan 1200B Natural Gas Pipeline. This project focuses on constructing 24 miles of natural gas transmission pipeline, part of an investment Consumers Energy made to improve the reliability of its natural gas infrastructure.

The line will run northeast through St. Joseph and Branch counties. This project completes a 90-mile dual gas transmission pipeline corridor, increasing system reliability for our 1.7 million natural gas customers. 

The project involves five main phases:

- Land clearing

- Welding

- Trench excavating

- Pipeline installation

- Backfilling

Why Consumers Energy Invests in Natural Gas Pipeline

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, pipelines are the safest, most reliable and cost effective means of transporting energy products over long distances. Inspecting, assessing and replacing the natural gas pipelines provide many benefits for customers such as:

  • Safety

After the new 1200B pipe is completed, we will be able to perform routine safety inspections on either of its parallel pipelines—while keeping the gas flowing.

  • Reliability

Transporting larger volumes of natural gas will not only encourage economic growth in Michigan, but it will protect our customers from price spikes.

  • Value

Customers can save money by purchasing natural gas during the summer when prices are lower and storing it until it’s needed in the winter.

More information on the Southwest Michigan Pipeline Project.

VIDEO: featuring Jim Sunday as a Senior Project Manager I at Consumers Energy.

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Consumers Energy Focusing on Forestry Projects Across Michigan to Deliver Electricity More Safely, Reliably

Posted on July 18, 2014. Filed under: Community, electric, Electricity, Forestry, reliability, Safety, weather | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

As part of our commitment at Consumers Energy to deliver energy safely and reliably, we are increasing our work to keep trees away from electric lines in communities across Michigan.

Trees account for about 30 percent of all power outages, and fallen trees or limbs can cut power to hundreds or thousands of people at a time. VIDEO: Trees and Power Lines

About 700 workers are currently in the field trimming or removing trees that come in contact with electric lines. They plan to work along 6,375 miles of lines, enough to travel from the Indiana or Ohio state line to the Mackinac Bridge more than 20 times.

We are dedicating more resources to forestry this year than in 2013 and addressing the circuits most affected by tree-related outages to improve reliability for the 1.8 million homes and businesses we serve.

By keeping trees from coming into contact with wires, we give our customers the best chance to keep their lights on during the worst of Michigan’s weather.

An important part of our forestry work is sustainability and planting the right tree in the right place. We worked to provide more than $50,000 in grants last year to help plant more than 390 trees in more than 40 communities. This year, the company is doubling that amount to $100,000, with maximum grants to communities of $2,000.

Trees and Power Lines In Your Community

  • Our crews share local tree-trimming plans to residents well in advance of the actual work.
  • Planners walk circuits where work is scheduled, talking to residents in person or leaving contact information, and marking trees that will be trimmed.
  • Letters also are mailed in advance to all homeowners and businesses along circuits where work will take place.

Learn more and get a list of preferred trees to plant near power lines at

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Consumers Energy Restoring Power after Severe Storms Roll Through Michigan, Get 4 Safety Tips

Posted on July 1, 2014. Filed under: Company Operations, electric, Electric Safety, Electricity, Events, reliability, Safety, storm, weather | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Restoration work continues after severe thunderstorms with frequent lightning and winds in excess of 60 mph caused more than 70,000 customer outages across Consumers Energy’s service territory. As of 11 a.m. Tuesday about 60,600 customers remained without service.

RoadsideSafetySummerThe I-94 corridor was hardest hit, affecting customers in several counties. We appreciate our customers’ patience as we work around the clock to safely and quickly restore power.

See the 4 safety tips below and stay 25 feet away from downed wires. DOWNED WIRE SAFETY VIDEO: Learn tips about the dangers and how to stay safe around downed power lines

Most customers without power since Monday night should be restored by late tonight or early Wednesday. In the Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, Bronson and Jackson areas, among the hardest hit by the storms, some customers may not have their power restored until late Wednesday.

Ongoing damage assessment, as well as expected windy conditions, may affect estimated restoration times.

As of 10:45 a.m., counties most affected by electric interruptions were: Branch (1,830); Calhoun (26,000); Genesee (1,802); Hillsdale (3,751); Ingham (657); Jackson (11,189); Kalamazoo (6,778); Livingston (1,315); St. Joseph (5,353); VanBuren (405) and Washtenaw (350).

More than 1,300 Consumers Energy and contract personnel, from damage assessors, tree crews, call center representatives to line workers, are dedicated to the storm restoration effort.

You can get updated restoration information at our online outage map, where outages can also be reported and power outage information is available. The online map may be accessed by both computers and mobile devices. You also may report a power outage by calling 1-800-477-5050.

4 Tips to Stay Safe during Power Restoration

  1. Stay at least 25 feet away from any downed wires and to report them immediately by calling 9-1-1 or Consumers Energy at 1-800-477-5050.
  2. Be alert to crews working along roads. Drivers should slow down or stop and wait for oncoming traffic to clear so they safely can go past workers on roadsides.
  3. If using a generator, contact a licensed electrician to ensure that it is properly connected and, for the safety of our lineworkers, make certain it is isolated from the company’s electric distribution system. Never use a generator in an attached garage, basement or near any air intakes, and never fuel a generator when it is running.
  4. In some cases, the mast which holds the electric service wires to a customer’s home or business may have been damaged or torn away. Crews will reconnect the wires to a home, but only a licensed electrician can repair or replace a mast or a cable.
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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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5 Tips to Prepare for Power Outages Before a Michigan Storm

Posted on June 16, 2014. Filed under: Business, electric, Electricity, reliability, Safety, storm, weather | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Dangerous weather may happen without much notice − but that doesn’t mean your family or business can’t be prepared. Safety is top priority at Consumers Energy, and we promise to work together for safer Michigan communities.

Click to watch a short video with tips to prepare before the storm.

Click to watch a short video with tips to prepare before the storm.

Here is a VIDEO: Prep Before the Storm along with the top five tips to help keep you and your family safe.

  1. Gather Water, Food and Medication – Your family should have a 3-day supply of water bottles, canned foods and any medication needed just in case a bad storm delays food supplies
  2. Have First Aid Kits Ready – It’s important to keep and regularly fill two first aid kits − one for the house and another for a vehicle. Be sure to add a whistle if your family needs to signal for help during an emergency
  3. Assemble Battery-Operated Tools – Keep a flashlight, battery-operated lantern and radio ready to help your family remain safe. Don’t forget extra batteries to keep the tools working properly
  4. Keep Cash on Hand – If ATMs and credit card machines are out of order because of a storm, be sure to have extra cash to spend on any supplies your family may need
  5. Create a Communication Plan – Last, but certainly not least, devise a communication plan for your entire family to follow during a storm. This safety procedure should include where to go if your family becomes separated and which phone numbers should be memorized. Businesses should have a plan to notify employees

Check out more storm prep tips to keep your family safe all year.

Get 15 tips to help your business weather any Michigan storm.

For more information on storms and power outages, visit You also can report a power outage and track service restoration progress at

Follow Consumers Energy on Twitter and Facebook for safety tips and storm restoration updates.

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Consumers Energy Investing $150 Million to Strengthen and Expand Natural Gas Lines Throughout Michigan

Posted on June 6, 2014. Filed under: Business, Community, Company Operations, employee, Natural Gas, Natural Gas Safety, reliability, Safety | Tags: , , , |

We’re spending over $150 million this year to strengthen and expand our natural gas system throughout Michigan as part of our ongoing plan to provide safe, reliable natural gas service in the communities we serve.

A Consumers Energy employee installs pipeline recently. Consumers Energy is spending over $150 million throughout Michigan to strengthen and expand its natural gas system.

A Consumers Energy employee installs pipeline recently. Consumers Energy is spending over $150 million throughout Michigan to strengthen and expand its natural gas system.

We are proud that these efforts also involve putting more Michiganders to work. Consumers Energy has hired an additional 450 skilled employees over the past two years who are dedicated to a significant portion of this work.

The gas system improvements will upgrade portions of Consumers Energy’s 29,000 miles of distribution and transmission gas pipelines that serve 1.7 million natural gas customers in Michigan. The company’s $82 million enhanced infrastructure program includes 59 projects to replace 88 miles of pipeline. VIDEO: Workers install natural gas pipeline. LEARN MORE: How natural gas gets to your home or business.

Key enhancement projects for 2014 include:

  • 18 projects in numerous cities within Oakland and Wayne counties
  • 12 projects in Flint, Burton, Mt. Morris, and Imlay City
  • Nine projects in Kalamazoo and Decatur
  • Seven projects in Saginaw, Bay City, Kochville and Bangor Township
  • Seven projects in Lansing, Webberville, Williamston and Portland
  • Three projects in Hastings and Owosso
  • Two projects in Alma
  • One project in Tecumseh

These projects are in addition to more than $68 million that Consumers Energy will spend this year to expand and enhance other areas of its statewide natural gas system:

  • More than $21 million to replace or move natural gas lines and related infrastructure due to civic improvement projects such as road and sewer work
  • Nearly $17 million to accommodate new business growth as the state’s economy continues to improve
  • More than $26 million to add more than 2,500 new customers to its natural gas system, who are switching from another heating fuel, such as propane
  • Over $4 million to upgrade service to existing customers in targeted areas
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Toni Fabus is Consumers Energy Gatekeeper of the Year for Helping Senior Customer

Posted on May 29, 2014. Filed under: Community, employee, Events, Safety | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Congratulations to meter worker Toni Fabus for being selected as Consumers Energy’s Gatekeeper of the Year 2013! Her selfless work was honored by the Michigan Commission on Services to the Aging, Consumers Energy and a representative of Governor Rick Snyder earlier this month. Fabus also accepted the Outstanding Contributor Award from Consumers Energy.

Second from left, Toni Fabus, Gatekeeper of the Year.

Second from left, Toni Fabus, Gatekeeper of the Year.

Toni Fabus earned these awards for going above and beyond on the job.

  • During an electric service call, she heard screaming coming from a house.
  • Fabus crawled through an open window to find an elderly woman, who had fallen, and was living in deplorable conditions. She then called for help to aid the woman.
  • Fabus’ service connected the individual to aging services, which changed the woman’s life.

Consumers Energy has worked with the Commission on Services to the Aging for 27 years to recognize employees who help those 60 and over who may not be able to help themselves. Since 1987, Consumers Energy employees have referred more than 6,000 older adults to the Gatekeeper Program.

Fabus was chosen from a list of 12 honorees from Consumers Energy. We are so proud to have Toni Fabus and all those who help our customers in our Consumers Energy family. Their compassionate hearts remind us of the importance to help others every day and exemplify our Promise to care for the Michigan communities we serve.

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Slow Down and Go Around to Help Michigan’s Roadside Workers Stay Safe

Posted on May 22, 2014. Filed under: Business, Community, Events, Safety | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Robin Creel hopes the death of her husband in 2012 will not be in vain. She is the widow of Consumers Energy journeyman line worker Jeff Creel, who was struck and killed by a vehicle while responding to a report of a downed power line near Jonesville.

SafetyRoadsideDemonstrating her continuing support for roadside worker safety efforts, Robin attended a special event today in Lansing to promote Michigan Roadside Safety Awareness and the need to Slow Down and Go Around.

As Creel and others looked on, Sen. Bruce Caswell (R-16) presented a proclamation declaring May 22, 2014 as Michigan Roadside Safety Awareness Day.

The event was scheduled to coincide with the Memorial Day holiday weekend as Michigan motorists prepare to hit the road with the unofficial start to summer. The state’s top utilities and others who work alongside those roads are reminding drivers to slow down in utility work zones.

“Working in and around roadways is often required by employees who provide electric, gas and telecommunications services, waste hauling, as well as those in the construction trade, and there’s no doubt this work presents a daily danger,” said Dan Malone, Consumers Energy’s senior vice president of distribution, operations, engineering and transmission.

  • In 2013, there were 4,080 construction zone and utility related crashes in Michigan, 10 of which were fatalities and another 107 serious injuries.
  • Public Acts 103, 315 and 464 are all related to driving safely in roadway work zones, and provide for penalties for those who don’t respect the zones, with severe penalties for those who injure or kill workers in these designated areas.
  • State laws changed in 2006 to double fees and criminal penalties for injuring or killing a worker in a work zone apply to all workers, not just law enforcement and road construction crews.
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