Natural Gas Safety
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.
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 readRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( Comments Off )
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
- Trench excavating
- Pipeline installation
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:
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.
Transporting larger volumes of natural gas will not only encourage economic growth in Michigan, but it will protect our customers from price spikes.
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.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( Comments Off )
Consumers Energy Investing $150 Million to Strengthen and Expand Natural Gas Lines Throughout Michigan
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.
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
“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.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( Comments Off )
Now that a record Michigan winter has finally given way to warmer temperatures, homeowners and contractors are reminded to call MISS DIG at 811 to have underground utilities marked before beginning any digging projects.
The Dig Safely partners of MISS DIG System, Inc. are sponsoring a drawing for one lucky Michigan resident to win a 2014 Ford F-150 STX 4×4 truck as an incentive for residents to remember to call 811.
Residents are encouraged to enter the drawing now through Aug. 10 by visiting the MISS DIG website at www.missdig.org or by sending a postcard to the one-call center’s Auburn Hills headquarters: MISS DIG System, Inc., 3285 Lapeer Road West, Auburn Hills, MI 48326. The drawing will be held and the winner announced on Aug. 11 (8-11).
The Dig Safely partners of MISS DIG System, Inc., are Consumers Energy, DTE Energy, SEMCO Energy and TransCanada.
Anyone planning to dig needs to call 811 at least three working days before beginning any digging project to have underground utilities marked. This helps prevent unintentional dig-ins to gas, electric, cable, water, sewer and fiber optic lines as well as property damage and possible personal injury. Every digging job requires a call, from small jobs like planting trees and shrubs to large projects like building and road construction.
Safe digging tips for homeowners include:
- Call 811/MISS DIG at least three working days before digging to have underground utilities marked
- Wait to start projects until you’re sure all lines are marked or cleared by the utility. This can be confirmed by contacting MISS DIG at 811
- Respect the marks and dig with care, especially if using power equipment. If your project is within four feet of the utility marks modify your plans and stay more than four feet from the marks, or use a wooden handle shovel to carefully expose the lines before starting excavation
- Ask your contractor to confirm 811 has been contacted before allowing any digging work to proceed
As we all look forward to warmer weather and getting outdoors, we remind you to dig safely and watch out for overhead wires. Look up and look out for wires, and always call 811 before starting any digging project to mark underground pipes and wires.
Now that we are thinking safety first, here’s a quick look back in our winter wrap-up.
- One of the coldest winters in a generation caused Michigan homeowners to use 20 percent more natural gas this winter compared to a year ago.
— However, the typical Consumers Energy residential customer paid just 10 percent more for natural gas
— Consumers Energy prices were down 8 percent from last winter
- We created the Severe Weather Assistance Team to help Michigan residents concerned about bills
— The team made 120,000 calls to customers in less than six weeks
— Made payment arrangements with customers, enrolled them in our Budget Plan and provided energy savings tips VIDEO: Ways to Save
“I was blown away at the response from customers!” said Randi Richards, one of our severe weather team members. “People were setting up payment arrangements, and they were telling me what was going on in their lives, how hard this winter has been, and what worked for their budget. They shared how touched they were that we were reaching out to them.”
- The majority of meters are being read. VIDEO: Meter Reading
– However, the extreme weather has created challenges in physically reaching every one of our 1.8 million natural gas meters
— We have increased the number of meter readers we have on the job. They are working extended hours, including weekends
Resources for Michigan Residents
- Concerned about your bill? Call (800) 477-5050
- Call 2-1-1 and ask about assistance programs
- Learn more about how to save at ConsumersEnergy.com/energyanswers
- Enroll in Consumers Energy’s Budget Plan, which levels out payments
Our Work Continues
- We are preparing for next winter. We will replenish our Michigan underground natural gas storage system, the nation’s fourth-largest
- Warm weather brings outdoor work – tree trimming and strengthening our gas and electric systems. We’ll be spending $60 million this year, for example, just to upgrade underground gas mains
Working to deliver the energy you need, whenever you need it. That’s our Promise to Michigan.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( Comments Off )
Consumers Energy gets about 30 reports every year of damaged meters caused by falling ice. Recently, building fires in Walker and near Lansing were sparked when ice fell and broke off a gas meter. Additionally, ice can fall on people, cars and air conditioning units.
Here are 5 tips to help prevent falling ice:
- Knock down icicles when they’re still small, if it is safe to do so, to keep them from getting big enough cause damage when they fall
- If ice gets to damaging size above meters, consider leaning a sheet of 3/4″ plywood against the wall and over the meters to deflect falling ice away from the meters. Act fast, to limit time spent in that potentially dangerous location under the ice
- Do not park or walk under icicles which may fall unexpectedly
- Keep down spouts unplugged before winter begins to help prevent the problem of ice forming over meters
- Ice dams on roofs/gutters also can be caused by improper insulation and ventilation. For professional advice, select a contractor who participates in the Consumers Energy Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® rebate program
- Take free and low-cost steps to reduce heating costs. Homeowners should have their furnace inspected each year to make sure it’s running efficiently and to replace the furnace filter often. Customers can also see savings of up to 20 percent when using a programmable thermostat. Learn more at www.ConsumersEnergy.com/save.
- Sign up for Consumers Energy’s Budget Plan, which spreads out annual energy costs into equal monthly payments. For more information, go to www.ConsumersEnergy.com/budgetplan.
- Assistance is available to help people pay bills. The CARE program is available based on income, from $17,235 for an individual up to $59,445 for a household of eight. People can enroll in CARE through February by contacting one of three partner agencies: The Heat and Warmth Fund (877) 646-2818, The Salvation Army at sawmni.org/cecare or TrueNorth Community Services (800) 379-0221. CARE territory map
- Winter storms and cold weather have led to an increase in estimated meter reads. Estimates are based on past energy usage and recent weather data. If you receive a statement based on an estimated reading, your actual usage will be reconciled with the next actual meter reading. If you have questions, call 1-800-477-5050.
- In the event of a service interruption, never use a cooking stove, oven or gas-fired space heater to heat a home because they can cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Carbon monoxide (CO) is a toxic gas that is colorless, odorless, tasteless and can be produced when appliances aren’t operating or vented properly. The best defense against CO poisoning is to install an alarm.
- Keep supplemental heaters away from curtains, bedspreads or anything flammable. Unplug heaters before going to bed or leaving home.
- Keep natural gas appliance and high efficiency furnace air intake valves and exhaust pipes free of snow and ice by carefully removing it by hand.
- Keep meters free of ice, snow and icicle buildup to prevent service interruptions. Mobile home customers are advised to safely clear snow away from rooftop chimneys, preferably by using a snow rake so that furnaces can continue to operate properly.
Following last weekend’s heavy snowfall across Michigan, we’re encouraging customers to keep safety in mind and make sure your gas furnace fresh air intake pipes and gas/electric meters are free of snow and ice.
With the large amount of snow that fell over the past two days, we have received numerous no-heat calls from customers, particularly those who live in mobile homes where chimneys are located on top of flat roofs. Snow has piled up around and blocked many of these chimneys, which causes furnace pilot lights to go out. Keep safe and warm with these tips:
- Mobile Home customers: Safely clear snow away from mobile home rooftop chimneys, preferably by using a snow rake. The furnace can then be recycled and should operate properly.
- High Efficiency Furnace customers: Make sure the fresh air intake pipes (typically two white plastic that comes out of the side of the home – see related photo) are free from drifting snow to prevent obstructions and improper operation.
- Keep gas and electric meters clear of snow and ice. When snow and ice is allowed to build up it can become compacted and freeze, causing damage that interferes with proper operation of meters and related appliances. Snow should only be removed by hand, never with a shovel or power snow removal equipment.
Carbon Monoxide Safety: Safe removal of snow and ice around chimneys, intake valves and meters can help prevent possible carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas that is colorless, odorless, tasteless and can be produced when appliances aren’t operating or venting properly. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning often mimic the flu and include headaches, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, and stinging or burning of the eyes. Learn more at www.ConsumersEnergy.com/cosafetyRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )
The holiday season is upon us! It’s a time to celebrate with family and friends. It’s also a good time to review some safety tips to help keep your family safe.
This time of year builds excitement in a lot of people, especially children. With all of the bright colored, shiny decorations around, some children may find it difficult to keep their hands to themselves. Try to keep fragile ornaments up where they can’t be reached. Always remember to check lights and cords to ensure they have no fraying or damage. Remember to never put cords under furniture or rugs.
Winter break marks a time for kids to sit at home and play video games, watch TV and frolic in the snow all day. Be sure to review your household rules and safety tips with your children including first aid, fire safety, the importance of bundling up before going out in the cold, and what to do during a storm.
Lastly, with temperatures taking a dip, people are inclined to turn to portable heaters and fireplaces to help stay warm. Remember to keep heaters away from furniture, curtains and clothing.
If your home has a gas fireplace, be sure to talk with children about the 3 Rs of natural gas safety: recognize the smell of “rotten eggs”, react by leaving the home and going to a safe place, and report by calling Consumers Energy at (800) 477-5050 or 911.
For more tips, games and activities designed to keep children safe, visit www.ConsumersEnergy.com/kids.
Wishing you a safe and happy holiday season from Consumers Energy!Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( Comments Off )
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