Safety

5 Tips to Decorate Your Tree Safely

Posted on December 3, 2015. Filed under: consumers energy, Electric Safety, energy, Safety, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, one in every three tree fires is caused by electrical problems and one in every 40 reported tree fires results in a death. Protect yourself this holiday by decorating your tree safely. Five simple tips to get you started:

  • Opt for a fresh tree that is not dry or a flame-resistant artificial tree
  • Connect no more than three strands of light sets
  • Discard any lights with worn or broken cords and connections
  • Keep your tree at least three feet away from heat sources like fireplaces, radiators, space heaters, candles or heat vents
  • Turn off all lights before leaving home or going to sleep

For more holiday safety tips, visit http://1.usa.gov/1MVhsO8

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Is it the Flu or Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

Posted on October 20, 2015. Filed under: consumers energy, Electric Safety, energy | Tags: , , , , , |

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless and poisonous gas that causes more than 400 accidental deaths in the United States each year. A total of 823 Michigan residents suffered unintentional CO poisoning resulting in 34 deaths in 2013, according to a report issued by the Michigan Department of Community Health.

Often called “The Silent Killer,” carbon monoxide poisoning can often be mistaken for the common flu. In honor of Carbon Monoxide Safety and Awareness Week on Oct. 18-24, protect yourself by knowing the symptoms.

Common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning and the flu:

  • headache
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • fatigue
  • dizziness

Although carbon monoxide poisoning and the common flu share similar symptoms, it may be carbon monoxide poisoning if:

  • Symptoms alleviate when you are outside your home
  • Several members in the home are ill simultaneously (the flu is usually passed from person to person)
  • Indoor pets are ill (pets may show signs first)
  • You don’t have a fever, generalized aching, or swollen lymph nodes (typical with a cold or virus or flu)

Suspect Carbon Monoxide in Your Home?

Prolonged exposure can cause disorientation, convulsions, unconsciousness and eventually death. Follow these steps if you suspect carbon monoxide in your home:

  1. Get everyone out of the house and into fresh air
  2. Call 911 for immediate medical help
  3. Do not re-enter your home under any circumstance until help has arrived, your house has been investigated and the problem is corrected.
  4. Call a qualified contractor or gas utility to have your appliances checked.

For more information about how you can protect you and your loved ones from carbon monoxide poisoning, visit Centers of Disease Control and Prevention at http://www.cdc.gov/co/

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Consumers Energy Welcomes New Fleet Addition

Posted on September 21, 2015. Filed under: Company Operations, Consumers, electric, Electric Safety, Electricity, employee, energy, fleet | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Our trucks travel more than 40 million miles a year, transporting employees from jobsite to jobsite to meet commitments and deliver on our promises to our customers. With more than 95 percent of a crew’s shift spent on the trucks, having a fleet of safe, reliable vehicles is critical to the work we do.

In March of 2015 we obtained a new mutual aid truck that has everything we might need when repairing one of our vehicles, especially when a trip back to the service center is not possible. The vehicle serves a key role in our storm restoration efforts.

Click the image below to see the most widely used vehicles driven by our employees on the job:

Fleet-Infographic_9-21

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Count On Us: Powered By Jodi Duffield & Consumers Energy

Posted on August 14, 2015. Filed under: Business, Community, employee, energy, Natural Gas, Natural Gas Safety | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Before pursuing gas distribution, Jodi Duffield served in the Marine Corps for four years. After her service, she decided to join our team as meter reader then as a gas lines worker. Going on her 11th year at Consumers Energy, she is proud to say she absolutely loves her work because of the impact she makes on our customers. Her role is to help customers save energy and money by providing access to natural gas service and ensuring they stay safe from natural gas hazards. Below, Jodi explains how she is providing safe, reliable energy for natural gas customers across Michigan.

What does Count On Us mean to you?

I trust our slogan because it is limitless. No matter the weather or situation, our customers should feel confident that we will Employee-Spotlight_Jodi-Duffield_8-14be there when they need us.

What makes Consumers Energy unique?

Our company is unique because of its commitment towards safety. The push for safety is apparent on all levels. I am thankful that, if it comes a time where a job seems unsafe, management will put our project on hold to figure out how to do the work safely.  By keeping employees safe, we are able to keep our customers safe.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

As a crew leader, I am responsible for keeping our crews and customers are safe from hazards. Our crews engage in a tailboard conference program at the start of every job to discuss possible safety hazards. Open communication allows us to work better and safer as a team.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Every day is a new location, a new job and a different scenario. As a gas line worker, my responsibilities include fixing gas leaks, repairing damages and putting in new construction business services.

Currently, we are working on a Customer Attachment Program (CAP) where we are building a gas main extension to bring natural gas service to new customers. The project involves putting in approximately one mile of four inch plastic gas main into the ground to reach 16 new customers.

What is the best advice you ever received?

Someone once told me that my job is not a race, but a marathon. The same way that you would train for a marathon, we should take that into our everyday life. It’s not about rushing through every single thing that we do, but slowing down, preparing and enjoying every moment of it.

To learn more about our Natural Gas service, visit our resource center at https://www.consumersenergy.com/gascenter

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Count On Us: Powered By Tonya Tuntevski & Consumers Energy

Posted on July 31, 2015. Filed under: Business, Community, Company Operations, Consumers, Electric Safety, employee, Environment, Forestry | Tags: , , , , |

Tonya Tuntevski really knows trees. Going on her 11th year with Consumers Energy, she serves as an Associate Forester for the Zeeland and Allegan service territories. She spends her days ensuring the right tree is planted in the right place so our customers can have the energy they need, whenever they need it.

What inspired you to become a Forester?

Growing up, I was outdoors all the time and loved climbing trees. I pursued my passion for trees by attaining a Bachelor’s degree in Forestry with an emphasis in Forest Genetics from Oklahoma State University. Everyone on the Consumers Energy forestry team are also certified arborists through the International Society of Arboriculture.

What do you enjoy most about your job?Employee-Spotlight_Tonya-Tuntevski_7-30 (2)

I love talking with customers about our vegetation management program and explaining why we might remove a tree rather than trim it. Our customers love their trees, and I love talking about them. Explaining Right Tree Right Place and giving them advice on the appropriate species to plant in close proximity to our power lines is what fuels me to do my job.

Why is a vegetation management program necessary?

Trees account for 30 percent of our outages each year. Our vegetation management program is designed to clear wire zones and provide safe and reliable service for our customers.

How do you know what trees to address and when?

We have 2,000 circuits throughout the state of Michigan—that’s a lot of trees to trim. We rank our circuits based on outages due to vegetation.

Why do you mark trees?

We mark trees for our vegetation management program. Dots mean trim, X’s mean removal, slash marks mean that it is brush and is going to be removed.

What does an average day on the job look like?

We don’t really have an average day. The closest we get is collaborating with dispatchers, designers, planners, schedulers, tree crews and line crews to ensure we are providing safe and reliable service.

If you’re concerned about a tree and would like us to evaluate it, call 1-800-477-5050 or visit us online at www.ConsumersEnergy.com/forestry.

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Count On Us: Powered By Nora Marrakchi, Michael Parran and Consumers Energy

Posted on July 23, 2015. Filed under: Company Operations, Consumers, electric, Electric Safety, Electric Vehicles, employee | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Employee-Spotlight_7-23

(Left) Nora Marrakchi and (right) Michael Parran, Consumers Energy’s Strategic Innovation managers, believe that Innovation gives us the opportunity to shape our future and position our company for success in serving our customers. Through a collaborative effort, they are able to leverage new technology and resources to better serve our current and future customers. In June 2015, they were able to debut an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to help monitor power lines, equipment and wind turbines. The project enabled us to provide better energy reliability for our customers while ensuring the safety of our employees and the communities we serve.

What does the Strategic Innovation department mean for our customers?

NM: Our goal isn’t to be the strategic innovation gurus at Consumers Energy, but to infuse the company with new skillsets and inspire others to bring forward the ideas that will propel us into the next 120 years. Our pilot projects are a result of unconventional thinking from many people internal and external to the company and working with them to move these opportunity ideas from a conceptual state to an operational one.

Nora Marrakchi joined Consumers Energy in January 2015. She enjoys challenging the status quo and empowering others to think outside the box to better serve our customers. Away from work, Marrakchi is passionate about advancing education in underdeveloped countries. Growing up in North Africa, her efforts have been focused on the impacts of women in education.

Nora Marrakchi joined Consumers Energy in January 2014. She enjoys challenging the status quo and empowering others to think outside the box to better serve our customers. Away from work, Marrakchi is passionate about advancing education in underdeveloped countries. Growing up in North Africa, her efforts have been focused on the impacts of women in education. Our pilot projects are a result of many people having tremendously insightful ideas.

MP: We spend a lot of time thinking about the customer. It’s at the forefront of everything we do. We think about what our customers need and what our customers don’t know they need (yet). We learn from our projects in order to best serve our customers. We’re a small group, but as a team we punch above our weight when we collaborate with internal and external partners.

What does your typical day look like?

NM: We have multiple different projects at play in one given time that will be at different levels of maturity. Some are still in an ideation stage while other are already in play and being piloted. You know what your week is going to generally consist of, but not necessarily the hour-by-hour schedule due to the dynamic nature of our projects. It’s this flexibility to work differently that enables us to quickly change gears according to the needs of that day while still ensuring that all projects are continuously moving forward.

MP: Again, it changes with the variety of work we have going on. Our day can consist of meetings, brainstorming sessions and researching to keep up with what is currently going on in the industry. To be in this role you have to have flexibility to zoom in and out of ongoing projects.

A successful project for your team has been the pilot of an UAV for line inspection. What was the goal of the project?  

NM: The UAV is one of the best examples of what our company can do in a very short period of time when the right team is assembled. We were able to take something from a kernel of an idea from the Hackathon into reality and we are proud to say we are the fourth utility in the United States to have permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to use UAVs for line inspections. The goal of the pilot is to determine the viability of using of UAVs to achieve cost saving benefits and improve reliability for our customers. It will also ensure greater safety for our employees.

MP: I agree, the launch of our UAV is a good example of what we are capable of accomplishing. Our team is able to leverage internal and external resources in order to see something through from concept to implementation.

What does “Count on Us” mean to you? 

NM: It means we don’t accept what we did yesterday as being “good enough”. We must challenge ourselves individually, as departments, and a company to reconsider what we do and how we do it every day. If we accept current parameters, it will hurt us in the long run. Our customers want to know that we won’t just sit back and accept the “status quo”. We’re always trying to be proactive with our efforts and lead the pack when it comes to providing exceptional service to our customers.

Michael Parran joined Consumers Energy in January 2015. The ability to make a positive impact, the diversity of work and the energy sector in and of itself is what excites him most about his role. When he is not working, he is passionate about mentoring others.  He believes he owes who is today to those who have mentored him. He wishes to pay it forward to others.

Michael Parran joined Consumers Energy in January 2015. The ability to make a positive impact, the diversity of work and the energy sector in and of itself is what excites him most about his role. When he is not working, he is passionate about mentoring others. He believes he owes who he is today to those who have mentored him. He wishes to pay it forward to others.

MP: My first thoughts are about offering excellent quality of service and delivering reliable energy to our customers. However, the statement really is layered.  We are not only thinking about our customers today, but the customers we may have in the future. We have to think about how we serve our different audiences. These audiences are anyone of our customers, regulators, Michigan as a whole or investors/shareholders.

What excites you about your job?

NM: I like to challenge the status quo in ways that positively push the company forward. We’re facilitating departments to think outside the box in attaining their goals by not only leveraging new technology, but the creative minds across the company. Balancing multiple concurrent and diverse projects is a positive challenge, but ultimately it all comes down to the internal and external relationships that make it most rewarding.

MP: The ability to make a positive impact is what excites me. Beyond that, it’s the diversity of work. I am attracted to the energy sector because it is one of the few fields where so many issues (environmental, political, technological, etc.) converge.  Being able to make a difference in an industry that impacts so many issues is what keeps me going.

To learn more about how Consumers Energy is serving our customers, visit https://www.consumersenergy.com

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‘Energy in Education’ Event Equips Teachers With Energy Knowledge and Safety

Posted on June 30, 2015. Filed under: Community, Corporate Giving, Electric Safety, energy, Events | Tags: , , , |

energy in education

In order to provide better energy education to students in the communities we serve, we must go right to the source – our educators. On Tuesday, June 25, 2015, 21 fourth to eighth grade teachers from the Great Lakes Bay area attended our first ‘Energy in Education’ free professional development day at our Karn Weadock Plant in Essexville, MI.

Teachers were able to engage with Consumers Energy experts to learn how electricity is made with coal, wind and waterappParticipants even had the chance to generate their own electricity using a hand crank or bike generator. The hands-on experience was designed to show teachers how electricity is generated and the energy requirements for different types of bulbs. Along with their experiences at the Karn Weadock Plant, teachers received information on how to download our FREE EmPOWERed Kids app and resources available on our website to utilize in their classrooms.

Did you know?

The earliest record of electricity was made by Thales.  He unknowingly discovered static electricity about 600 BC when rubbing amber (a material created by fossilized tree sap) against silk.

EmPOWERed Kids is officially endorsed by the Michigan Department of Education. Request a free presentation for your classroom.

For more information on future ‘Energy in Education’ Days, email us at  education@cmsenergy.com.

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Count On Us: Powered by William Hicks II & Consumers Energy

Posted on June 19, 2015. Filed under: Community, Consumers, electric, Electric Safety, employee | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Full Name: William Hicks IIEmployee-Spotlight_6-21

Position: Meter Reader/ Volunteer Wire Guard

Service Length: 1.5 years

What is a wire guard?

A wire guard is the first responder to a downed wire. When a customer calls to report a downed wire in their neighborhood or backyard, we get dispatched. Wire guards are the first people on the scene to secure the wire.

What does it mean to secure the wire?

Securing the wire means we would locate the wire and assess potential hazards near the wire. We see if there are things, such as trees or fences, which can be energized from the wire touching it.

Then we set up a 20 foot parameter around the wire to secure. To secure it means that someone is there to make sure the wire is safe and secure until a lineman comes to reconnect the wire.

What does your average day/night of wire guarding look like?

To be honest, it’s kind of hard to tell what an average day will look like. You’ll never know if you’ll be outside in the country or maybe in the city. You just never know where you’re going to go so it’s all about coming prepared for anything. You never know where the wire is or what the hazards may be.

What motivates you to volunteer for this position?

The thing that motivates me the most is keeping not only my family safe, but our customers safe. I just think that if my mom or my wife called about a downed wire, I would want someone on the job to make sure the wire is secure because their safety is my number one concern. My family is all customers of Consumers Energy so I want to make sure they are safe.

What inspired you to get trained to be a volunteer wire guard in addition to your job?

Again, I volunteered to get trained as a wire guard in addition to my job because of the safety of our customers. We want to prevent all hazards.

What do you enjoy most about being a volunteer wire guard?

Aside from the safety of our customers, I enjoy meeting them. I’m a “people person” and love customer interaction. You never know what you’re going to experience or what you’re going to run into. The favorite question I always get asked is “when is my power going to be on.” I love that. I enjoy easing their fears and answering a lot of the questions they may have about what is going on.

What does reliability mean to you?

Reliability means just being there. Just simply being there when you call and being there until the job is done.

What does “Count on Us” mean to you?

When you call, we will answer. Whatever we can do as a company, count on us to be there until the job is done.

What makes our company unique?

That’s a good question. I think our company is the greatest. We have some of the best customers in the world and I think we provide an excellent service to all of our customers. I think we stand above the competition in providing the service to our customers. Just being there and being reliable makes us unique.

Describe yourself in three words.

I don’t think three words can even describe me honestly.

Tell us something on your bucket list.

I think I want to go skydiving. I think that would be pretty amazing. Am I going to do it? I don’t know yet.

What is the best advice you have ever received?

Be yourself. Be true to yourself and don’t try to be anyone else to fit or blend in. Be who you were created to be. Because the best you is the greatest you you will ever have.

What is your best joke?

I don’t know. I’m not a person who tells jokes. I’m more of a in-the-moment kind of guy with my punch lines.

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What Happens When You Call 811? Celebrate Safe Digging Month in Michigan

Posted on April 15, 2015. Filed under: Business, Community, Company Operations, Consumers, electric, Electric Safety, Electricity, energy, Environment, Forestry, How to, In Your Community Q&A, Natural Gas, Natural Gas Safety, reliability, Safety, sustainability | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Each year, hundreds of accidents are caused by careless digging. From planting a tree to building a deck, many projects can result in damage to utility lines, service interruptions, property damage, financial penalties and personal injuries. Prevent damage to yourself or your neighborhood by making the call to 811. It’s the law. 

Why Call 811 Before Digging?

April is Safe Digging Month, a time to reflect on safe digging practices for homes and businesses. Calling 811 will connect diggers to MISS DIG, the construction safety and utility damage prevention center for Michigan. MISS DIG prevents damage to Michigan neighborhoods in three steps:

  1. MISS DIG receives a request.
  2. Depending on the service request location, MISS DIG contacts local utility companies that provide natural gas, electricity, sewer, water, cable fiber optic and others who have lines buried underground.
  3. Within three business days, the local utilities will send representatives to mark the digging location with paint or colored flags.

Dig a hole– win prizes! Learn more.

5 Safe Digging Tips for Homeowners

Below are safety tips every homeowner should know before beginning a spring project:

  1. Call 811/MISS DIG three working days before you plan to dig.
  2. Make sure all utility lines are marked. Contact 811/MISS DIG to confirm.
  3. Respect the marks made by utility locators when using shovels or power equipment. Avoid using mechanized digging equipment near marks.
  4. Choose another location to begin your project if the original site is near utility lines.
  5. If you hired a contractor, confirm a call to 811/MISS DIG was made before they begin work on your property.

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Going on Vacation? Prepare For Your Trip With These Safety Tips in Mind

Posted on April 1, 2015. Filed under: Community, employee, Environment, month, Safety, weather | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Nothing cures the winter blues like a vacation. Whether you’re traveling during spring break or preparing for a summer trip, making safety top priority will ensure a fun, memorable vacation for the entire family.

Six Safety Tips for a Carefree Vacation

No one wants to spend their vacation worrying. Follow these safety tips to ensure a relaxing trip:

  • Keep Your Plans Off Social Media- Don’t post your vacation plans on social media. Keeping plans private may prevent a thief from knowing you’re away.
  • Place a Hold on Your Mail- Letting mail pile up could be an easy way to inform criminals you aren’t home. Place a hold on your mail at holdmail.usps.com.
  • Make a Copy of Important Identification- Be sure to make copies of photo IDs and passports. Keep them in a safe place in case you need them. This is especially important if you plan to travel out of the country.
  • Check Your Health Insurance- Not all companies cover travel abroad. Check with your health insurance provider to see if your family is covered before leaving the country.
  • Bring Sunscreen- The closer you travel to the equator, the better the chance for a sunburn. Bring and apply sunscreen frequently to prevent burns, premature aging, a change in skin texture, and even skin cancer.
  • Be Alert Near Water- Know your surroundings when boating or swimming, follow all beach rules and watch for hazards. By being alert, you could prevent injury or death to yourself or others.

Click here for additional safe travel tips

Do you have a safe traveling tip to share? Comment below.

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