There is much debate as to what characterizes a true Michigander. Is it experiencing all four seasons in one day? Or perhaps sizing your children’s Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit? From blistering summers to frigid winters and lots of wind year-round, there is no debate that Michiganders are prepared for weather extremes. At Consumers Energy, we’ve decided to harness our state’s ever changing climate to propel us toward a sustainable energy future.
Cross Winds® Energy Park, one of two Consumers Energy wind farms in operation, provides clean energy to power more than 300,000 homes per year and a $6.3 million economic impact each year of operation. That means a greener future while providing more jobs for our Michigan residents. Watch our short video to learn more about Cross Winds® Energy Park:
Did You Know?
- Wind energy was utilized as early as 5,000 B.C. to propel boats along the Nile River.
- The United States is second in the world for total wind power capacity.
- The first windmill manufactured in the United States was designed by Daniel Halladay in 1854.
Top 7 Ways to Enjoy Michigan’s Great Outdoors; Plan A Family Vacation Near Consumers Energy’s Hydros
Nothing is quite like Michigan’s great outdoors. With more than 2,600 miles of trails, our state ranks #1 for the most active, multi-use trails in the nation. We encourage residents to take advantage of our beautiful natural resources by planning family adventures near Consumers Energy’s hydroelectric properties. Michiganders can experience some of the most scenic areas along the Muskegon, Au Sable, Kalamazoo and Manistee rivers.
This season, more than 12,000 acres of our land and 78 recreational sites associated with our waters are open to the public. Take your family on a fun-filled vacation near our hydros to:
- Camp- Pitch a tent or park a camper at a campground near Manistee, Au Sable and the Muskegon rivers. There are more than 2,800 campsites associated with the Hodenpyl, Tippy, Foote, Alcona, Mio and Hardy dams.
- Hike- A three-mile path parallel to the Muskegon River entices hikers to stretch their legs on the nature trail at the Hardy Dam, where 26 tree species are identified with plaques. Sites at Hardy and Croton have also been managed for the endangered Karner blue butterfly. If you’re an ambitious hiker, you can cross a suspension footbridge downstream of Hodenpyl Dam for a 20-mile trek where the North Country National Scenic Trail connects to the Manistee River trail.
- Fish- Anglers experience a world-class inland fishery in Michigan each spring when hard-fighting steelhead leave the Great Lakes to spawn in rivers. Many steelhead swim downstream of Tippy, Foote, Croton and Calkins Bridge dams. Note: Fishing licenses and courtesy toward fellow anglers are required.
- Canoe- Paddle on all rivers along Consumers Energy’s hydros. The 23-mile stretch between Mio Dam to Alcona Pond on the Au Sable river is part of the internationally-known Au Sable River Canoe Marathon every July.
- Bird Watch- Bald eagles, a variety of waterfowl and species like pileated woodpeckers call our hydro property home. For the best chances to view rare, native trumpeter swans, visit the Loud and Cooke ponds on the Au Sable river.
- Turkey Hunt- Call in a bearded turkey on more than 12,000 acres along the Muskegon, Au Sable and Manistee rivers. Note: Properly licensed hunters only.
- Pick Morels- This spring, search for tasty morel mushrooms at the “morel capital of Michigan”— the Hodenpyl Dam near Mesick.
What is your favorite warm-weather activity near Consumers Energy’s hydros? Comment below!Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( Comments Off on Top 7 Ways to Enjoy Michigan’s Great Outdoors; Plan A Family Vacation Near Consumers Energy’s Hydros )
Guest Blog: Jessica Spagnuolo, Consumers Energy Sustainability Lead for Environmental Services, Discusses How Consumers Energy Continues To Go Green
Each year, about 164 million tons of solid waste goes into landfills across the country. In order to be stewards of the earth, Consumers Energy employees are taking steps to reduce the company’s environmental footprint, leaving the Great Lakes State better than we found it.
We will continue supporting sustainable efforts by saving 1 million cubic yards of landfill space through 2019 ─ the equivalent of five football fields stacked from goal line to goal line, 100 feet deep.
To accomplish this goal, our employees are encouraged to adopt an environmentally conscious culture by reducing, reusing and recycling waste. This will affect our daily work by:
- Rethinking how we manage and avoid generating waste
- Changing how we order products, how much we order and how they are packaged
- Using what we purchase and purchasing only what we need
- Altering how we demolish a building, considering “deconstruction” to repurpose the materials
- Reconsidering how we can best utilize surplus materials so that disposal is the very last option
- Updating work processes, such as deciding, “Do I really need to print this?”
We all have the ability to help sustain Michigan economically, environmentally and socially. In doing so, we need to think about how our jobs impact the environment and our communities.
In addition to teaching individual responsibilities to employees, we have also established company “Green Teams” across the state. Their purpose is to lead local waste avoidance programs, conduct waste assessments and report on progress. Leaders of “Green Teams” enjoyed our Reduce, Reuse and Recycle It Better workshop below:
How Much Has Consumers Energy Recycled?
- 537,547 gallons of antifreeze
- 6,164,640 gallons of used oil
- 268,922 gallons of fuel
- 16,738 gallons of paint
- 644,777 pounds of batteries
- 633,923 pounds of lamps
- 112,566 pounds of lighting ballasts
- 26,969 pounds of mercury equipment
- 66,575 tons of metal
- 146,657 yards of paper
- 68,300 yards of cardboard
- 195,467 pounds of electronics
- 259,726 tons of wood and wood products
- 4,985 tons of electrical equipment
By reducing, reusing and recycling our waste, we are leaving behind a planet that our children and our grandchildren can enjoy.
Jessica Spagnuolo is the secretary for the U.S. Green Building Council West Michigan Chapter Executive Board, a communications committee member for the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program, and she also coordinates Adopt-A-Highway and the annual Grand River Clean-Up for Consumers Energy in the Jackson area. She is an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, with a degree in Sustainable Business. Spagnuolo is very passionate about nature, leadership, fitness and considers herself a crazy cat lady.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( Comments Off on Guest Blog: Jessica Spagnuolo, Consumers Energy Sustainability Lead for Environmental Services, Discusses How Consumers Energy Continues To Go Green )
In 2014, bald eagles reached a record 750 breeding pairs in Michigan thanks to Consumers Energy’s effort to enhance habitats. Michigan dams, including a number of Consumers Energy’s hydros, create backwater habitats where eagles can find secluded nesting sites and plenty of fish that are safe for them to eat.
The 750 bald eagle breeding pairs estimated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the highest number since their census has been taken.
In the 1970s, chemicals like PCB and DDT were banned because they caused eagles’ eggshells to thin and break during the bird’s incubation. This severely reduced the eagle population across Michigan and the continental U.S.
The areas around our hydro reservoirs provided refuge for eagles and other wildlife, since the dams block toxins transported by migrating Great Lakes fish. Consumers Energy’s bald eagle management plan includes:
- Protecting old growth white pines
- Establishing a protection zone to minimize disturbance for each nest
- Protecting the eagles’ food supply
- Contributing to eagle productivity census flights
- Successfully exceeding productivity goal of 1.0 eagles fledged per nest
- Successfully added new breeding territories which increased annual eagle productivity on the hydros by more than 50 percent
Bald Eagle Fun Facts
There’s more to a bald eagle than being known as the United States’ national bird. Get the facts below:
- The bald eagle isn’t actually bald. Its white head only appears bald from a distance.
- The bird can only be found in North America.
- Bald eagles choose one mate for the rest of their lives—unless they become widowed.
- The bird can’t swim—but will sit in the water and row itself with its wings.
- Bald eagles have no sense of smell. They can only sense if their food is spoiled after tasting.
You know a Michigan winter is in full swing when 35 degrees sounds like a heat wave. While it’s important to take safety precautions for your home and business during the single digits, it’s also a great time to focus on improving your fuel economy.
How Does a Michigan Winter Affect Your Fuel Economy?
You can improve your fuel economy by driving Plug-in Electric Vehicles or hybrids, but even they can be affected by cold weather.
Due to cold weather:
- It takes longer for your engine to reach its most fuel-efficient temperature
- Heated seats, window defrosters and heater fans use extra power
- Air is more dense which decreases pressure in your tires and increases rolling resistance and aerodynamic drag
- Battery performance weakens which affects the regenerative breaking system on hybrids
Severe Winter Weather Drops Your MPG
If you have to commute in severe winter weather, your miles-per-gallon can drop significantly because:
- Using four-wheel drive increases fuel use
- Icy, snow-covered roads make it difficult for your tires to effectively grip, which wastes energy
- Speeds below 30 to 40 mph on slick roads further reduces fuel economy
7 Tips to Improve Your Fuel Economy
Enhance your fuel economy this season with these tips and tricks:
- Don’t use seat warmers or defrosters excessively
- Use the oil type recommended by your manufacturer for driving in cold weather
- Combine trips to drive less often with a cold engine
- If you drive a PEV or hybrid, preheat the cabin while plugged into the charger to increase range
- Save energy and increase range for your PEV or hybrid by using the seat warmers instead of the cabin heater
- Minimize idling your car to warm it up and reduce pollution. Vehicle manufacturers usually recommend driving off gently after about 30 seconds.
- Park your car in a warm spot like a garage to increase temperature of vehicle
Click for more information on plug-in electric vehicles
How do you improve your fuel economy during the winter months? Comment below.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( Comments Off on 7 Tips to Improve Your Fuel Economy in Michigan Winter Weather; PEV )
“We realize that schools have tight budgets,” said Tara Ragauss, Education Programs Manager. “We felt it was important to provide classrooms with up-to-date technology that will benefit the learning experience of students.”
Second through sixth grade teachers, in schools served by Consumers Energy, will automatically be entered in the drawing by signing up for the new EmPOWERed Kids program if their presentation took place before December 31, 2014.
The free interactive program is endorsed by the Michigan Department of Education and is designed to educate students about energy topics such as:
- The dangerous consequences of touching electric power lines or acting carelessly with electrical appliances.
- Learning the three Rs: recognize, react and report natural gas leaks.
- The role of utility flags and why safe digging is important.
Since launching in September we’ve done 55 EmPOWERed Kids presentations reaching about 2,500 students. In total, we have reached more than 40,000 students this school year through our educational programs.
An additional six technology grant recipients will be selected at random on May 20, 2015. Teachers who have an EmPOWERed Kids presentation in their second through sixth grade classroom between January 2015 and May 15, 2015 will also be automatically entered into that drawing.
ConsumersEnergy.com/teachers also has lessons plans, educational games and other resources for teachers.
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY: A purchase will not increase your chances of winning. Current Michigan teachers, who are legal residents of Michigan, who are Consumers Energy customers as of 9/1/14 and at least 18 years old are eligible. Void where prohibited. Sweepstakes ends 5/15/15. For Official Rules, alternate method of energy, prize descriptions and odds disclosure, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Sponsor: Consumers Energy Company.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( Comments Off on Technology Grants to be Awarded to Michigan Schools in Mid-January )
As we say goodbye to 2014 and hello to 2015, Consumers Energy is proud to share a number of accomplishments from the past year.
We worked hard to serve our customers and improve our communities. In 2014, Consumers Energy:
- Created a severe weather assistance team that made more than 125,000 calls to help customers manage their bills during the Polar Vortex
- Launched the Slow Down and Go Around campaign to ensure a safe work environment for our crews
- Accelerated the plan to bring smart meters to homes and businesses two years early
- Raised more than $300,000 to help customers with their heating bills by participating in Walks for Warmth
- Gave $9 million in contributions to Michigan nonprofit organizations
- Recycled 100,000 refrigerators
- Increased in-state spending to $150 million to help grow Michigan’s economy
- Built a 24-mile long pipeline to transport affordable and reliable natural gas to customers
- Implemented a nationally recognized Incident Command System to improve emergency response
- Opened new LEED Certified Service Centers to better assist customers
- Completed and opened the Cross Winds Energy Park to meet the 10 percent renewable energy goal one year ahead of schedule
Thank you to all Consumers Energy employees, retirees and volunteers, and to our residential and business customers, for helping make 2014 such a successful year.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( Comments Off on VIDEO: 2014 In Review with Consumers Energy )
Inspecting and maintaining equipment at our Essexville plant, Karn Weadock, was never an easy task. Gaining access for repairs was often too expensive or unsafe—until now. The power plant received its first drone in July to help perform inspections of boilers and other equipment.
Q. Why does Consumers Energy need a drone and who controls it?
A. The drone is a quadcopter (helicopter with four propellers) and is used by our Consumers Energy’s Boiler System Owners to:
- Enhance equipment reliability
- Spend less money on inspections
- Save customers money
Q. Where is the drone used?
A. The drone is currently used within the walls of Karn Weadock. Any use outside is against the law and forbidden. The quadcopter works in 4 simple steps:
- It travels by remote control and connects to the drone’s onboard computer.
- The onboard computer makes it easier to move the drone up/down, forward/backward, left/right and rotate left/right.
- It uses a Wi-Fi signal to send back first person video of our equipment from the onboard camera.
- The camera is connected to a smartphone or tablet to receive the first person video of our equipment. It also helps in movement control.
Q. How does the drone save customers money?
A. Spotting tube leaks and repairing general material conditions allow Consumers Energy to provide power straight to customers, instead of buying it at high prices off the market.
Surprising Uses for Drones
Drones are used across the country for a variety of positive reasons. According to National Geographic, drones currently play large roles in:
- Hurricane Hunting
- 3-D Mapping landscapes
- Protecting wildlife
- Searching and saving missing or injured people
Why celebrate America Recycles Day? That’s easy—to encourage more people to join the movement. Keeping America beautiful takes teamwork and dedication. Check out all the social, environmental and economic benefits of the recycling movement and industry:
- Conserves natural resources
- Reduces greenhouse gas emissions
- Saves energy
- Prevents pollution
- Reduces the need for new landfills
- Lowers costs to businesses
- Employs more than 1 million people
Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
Recycling is an important initiative at Consumers Energy. We stress the importance to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle as part of our commitment to the environment. Throughout Michigan, we’ve placed special collection bins at our corporate offices, service centers and plants and have recycled:
- 523,484 gallons of antifreeze
- 5,938,603 gallons of used oil
- 267,780 gallons of fuel
- 16,266 gallons of paint
- 608,694 pounds of batteries
- 26,599 pounds of mercury equipment
- 55,690 tons of metals
- 67,822 yards of corrugated cardboard
- 143,824 yards of paper
- 253,363 tons of wood and wood products
- All units – toner cartridges
- 611,097 pounds of lamps
- 190,948 pounds of electronics
- 111,266 pounds of lighting ballasts
- 4,985 tons of electrical equipment
Consumers Energy also buys reusable, recycled and other environmentally products like:
- Recycled paper
- Cardboard products
- Low-mercury fluorescent lamps
These achievements have helped conserve about 700,000 cubic yards of municipal landfill space.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( Comments Off on America Recycles Day; Recycle Tips for Your Home, Business )
Although we’re rounding out the end of Careers in Energy Week, Consumers Energy wants to keep public awareness about energy-related jobs alive well after the statewide celebration. We plan to continue recruiting top Michigan talent for rewarding careers in energy.
Consumers Energy is pleased to work with DTE Energy and the Michigan Energy Workforce Development Consortium during this celebration to raise awareness for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education.
To hear about job openings, follow Consumers Energy on LinkedIn!
A Day in the Life of a Consumers Energy Employee
From lineworkers to power plant operators, customer service representatives to accountants and technicians to engineers, there are a variety of careers Consumers Energy offers throughout the state of Michigan. Check out a few behind-the-scenes videos from Consumers Energy employees:
1. System Controller
2. Senior Project Manager
3. Lineworker Trainer
4. Electric Field Leader
Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( Comments Off on Behind-the-Scenes of a Consumers Energy Employee; Careers in Energy Week )
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