Safety

How Consumers Energy Distributes Electricity to Your Home, Business

Posted on September 17, 2014. Filed under: Community, Company Operations, Consumers, Education, electric, Electric Safety, Electricity, energy, reliability, Safety, storm | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

You’re driving down the road. You see passing cars, businesses, a few houses and maybe even a farm field. But did you notice the utility poles and power lines? Although we’re so used to seeing them that they often blend in, utility poles and power lines are significant to the final stage in the delivery of electric power. Think of them as the strong, silent type.

From the ways Consumers Energy generates electricity to the basics of electric transmission to its final distribution process, each phase plays a key role in reliable service for our customers.

How Does Electric Distribution Work?

Electric transmission converts to distribution in the power substation that serves your home or small business. Electricity is:

  1. Removed from the transmission system
  2. Passed through step-down transformers which lower voltage near the final destination
  3. Transferred onto smaller cables which lead to the customer

If the electricity is for a residential customer, voltage is then lowered by smaller transformers on poles or underground before connecting to your home.

Whether a wire is sagging or downed, stay at least 25 feet away.

Whether a wire is sagging or downed, stay at least 25 feet away.

Stay Away Stay Alive

If you see a downed power line, remember the rule—Stay Away and Stay Alive. Even though a broken wire on the ground isn’t sparking, it can still be “live” with a deadly amount of electricity. Take these safety precautions if you spot a downed power line:

  • Keep people and pets 25 feet away
  • Be careful not to come in contact with anything the wire is touching, especially standing water, metal objects and even tree limbs
  • Do not try to move a wire if it’s crossing a road or driveway
  • Contact Consumers Energy toll-free at 1-800-477-5050 or your local law enforcement agency to report the downed power line immediately

Click here for more safety tips

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Consumers Energy Prepares for Severe Weather in Michigan, Includes Storm Prep Tips

Posted on September 9, 2014. Filed under: Community, Company Operations, Consumers, electric, Electric Safety, employee, energy, reliability, Safety, storm, weather | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

When multiple storms hit Michigan, our employees come together to ensure a timely restoration process for our customers. This includes taking all appropriate safety steps to turn your power back on safely. Consumers Energy employees are equipping for Wednesday’s storm so we can respond quickly and efficiently.

10 Tips to Prepare for Severe Weather

You can get ready for the next severe storm right from your own home. Prep your family for upcoming storms with these 10 tips:

  1. Have a three-day supply of water, non-perishable food and medication available for all members of your household including pets.
  2. Keep flashlights, a portable radio and extra batteries handy.
  3. Have first aid kits for your home and car.
  4. Develop a plan so you can stay in touch with your family in a disaster. Be sure each family member has a copy of your communication plan.
  5. Have your home’s furnace checked by a professional to make sure it is in safe working order.
  6. Install a carbon monoxide alarm on each level of your home. If you already have a carbon monoxide alarm, change or test the batteries regularly.
  7. When installing a generator, make sure it’s connected by a licensed electrician for the safety of utility crews and first responders.
  8. If the power does go out, avoid traveling through hazardous areas and always stay at least 25 feet away from downed power lines and anything a downed wire might be touching.
  9. You can report all downed power lines and safety hazards to Consumers Energy and your local 911 center.
  10. Check out the Consumers Energy outage map to report an outage and check for restoration updates at www.ConsumersEnergy.com/outagemap

How do we restore power?

After a storm, Consumers Energy crews work swiftly to protect the public and restore service to our customers. We decide who to restore first based on:

  • Public safety

Our crews are first sent to areas of safety concerns such as downed wires and also to restoring service to emergency response departments and hospitals.

  • Consumers Energy substations and circuits

Our crews repair substations and circuits, which impact large areas and will restore service to the largest number of customers

  • Individual Neighborhoods

Our crews are sent to individual neighborhoods to complete repairs for smaller numbers of customers

 If anyone in your family depends on electric powered life-support equipment, prescribed by a doctor,

please visit the American Red Cross Identification Program for additional help.

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Consumers Energy Connects Michigan Students with New EmPOWERed Kids Smartphone App

Posted on September 5, 2014. Filed under: Community, Company Operations, Consumers, Education, electric, Electric Generation, Electric Safety, energy, Environment, Natural Gas, Natural Gas Safety, Renewable Energy, Safety, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

The EmPOWERed Kids program features safety presentations for Michigan classrooms.

The EmPOWERed Kids program features safety presentations for Michigan classrooms.

 

 

 

Tis the season for freshly sharpened pencils and brand new folders. That’s right—September is back-to-school month in Michigan. As parents are preparing lunches and students are filling school buses, Consumers Energy launches its new smartphone app and classroom program called EmPOWERed Kids. The new technology provides Michigan students, teachers and parents with an engaging way to learn about energy.

Students enjoy the fun learning experience created by the EmPOWERed Kids program

Students enjoy the fun learning experience created by the EmPOWERed Kids program

 

 

 

EmPOWERed Kids Across Michigan

Every year, Consumers Energy teams up with Michigan schools to deliver important lessons about electricity and natural gas, renewable energy and safety. Not only are we committed to energy lessons in the classroom with the EmPOWERed Kids program, but parents may also download the free app at home for continued learning.

The EmPOWERed Kids app is available for most smartphone devices and tablets including iPads. Search “EmPOWERed Kids” in the App or Play Store to download now. Our engaging app teaches kids about:

  • How electricity is made from coal, wind, water and even cow manure
  • How to recognize danger signs involving electricity and natural gas
  • What natural gas smells like and what to do to stay safe

For more information, teachers and parents can read

Consumers Energy’s education newsletter!

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Consumers Energy offers 6 Safety Tips to Protect Your Children

Posted on September 2, 2014. Filed under: Consumers, Education, electric, Electric Safety, Electricity, energy, Natural Gas, Safety, storm, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

Being a parent is one of the most rewarding jobs you can have. From the belly to the beginning of college, we understand the importance of teaching safe lifestyles to shape your children’s futures. Consumers Energy wants to celebrate National Baby Safety Month with helpful safety tips to protect your child at home.

Consumers Energy Knows Family

Our company is a huge proponent of family, especially when it comes to safety. From our family to yours, check out six safety tips to protect your children:

  1. Keep Climbable Furniture Away from Windows

As the September air becomes crisp, your family can save money on your energy bill by opening windows at night to cool your home. However, window screens will not prevent a fall from happening. Be sure to block any open windows so children cannot access them. You may also look into hiring a professional to properly install window guards.

  1. Install Outlet Covers and Cord Shorteners

Prevent small children from touching electrical outlets by installing outlet covers in your home. Cord shorteners will also eliminate the possibility of your children pulling on electrical cords. If any cords look damaged or are frayed, be sure to stop using them immediately.

  1. Unplug and Store Electric Appliances

When finished with appliances like curling irons, hair dryers, flat irons and electric razors make sure to unplug them and store them in an area children cannot access. This will prevent burns or other injuries from occurring.

  1. Install a Carbon Monoxide Detector

If your home uses gas heat, it is especially important to install a carbon monoxide detector to protect your entire family from poisoning. Learn more on how to prevent carbon monoxide.

  1. Have a Chemical Fire Extinguisher

In the case of an electrical fire, it’s important not to use water to extinguish it. Since water conducts electricity, using it will cause a fire to become larger. Have a chemical fire extinguisher handy to get rid of an electrical fire properly. If the fire is becoming too dangerous to put out, leave your home immediately and call the fire department.

  1. Prep Before a Storm

Below is a helpful guide for your entire family before a storm. Be sure to add baby food, a diaper bag and any medications your children may need. Check out additional information on the American Red Cross Identification Program for anyone in your family that depends on electric powered life-support equipment, prescribed by a doctor.

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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 http://www.ConsumersEnergy.com/forestry.

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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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