For more than 15 years, education programs administrator Michelle Mitchell has empowered K-6 grade students to become energy experts. Learn how she is preparing the next generation of natural gas and electric safety ambassadors below.
How has Consumers Energy pioneered energy safety?
Safety has always been Consumers Energy’s number one priority – it’s engrained in everything that we do. In addition to keeping our employees safe, we have a duty and obligation to do the same for our communities. What better way to do so than to empower kids to be our biggest advocates?
Always eager to learn and share, we’ve learned that if you teach kids about energy safety, they will enthusiastically share what they learned with their families. Teachers in Consumers Energy territory schools can take advantage of two free classroom presentations: EmPOWERED Kids and Respect the Flags.
Why should teachers take advantage of a free classroom presentation?
It is a unique, hands-on opportunity for kids to connect what they learned in the classroom to their daily lives. For example, we utilize our interactive EmPOWERed Kids app for presentations to introduce topics such as how we make electricity with renewables and non-renewables and how to be safe with it.
What if my school is not in a Consumers Energy service territory? What resources are available for middle or high school students?
We have lesson plans available online for K-12 grade students which correlate with Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and Grade Level Content Expectations (GLCE).
We also offer an energy expert patch for girl scouts and cub scouts. Scout leaders can access workbooks and order patches at ConsumersEnergy.com/scouts.
What drives you to teach kids about energy safety?
It’s like a mobile classroom for me. I have the opportunity to educate more than just 30 students a year. I’m reminded of my passion to teach when students are excited to recognize me at the grocery store or when I receive handmade thank you cards. It’s extremely rewarding to hear and read what they learned about energy safety in their own words.
“If I can save a child’s life by them remembering the signs of a natural gas leak, I have done my job.”
Learn more about our education programs or request a safety presentation at ConsumersEnergy.com/kids.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( Comments Off on Count On Us: Powered by Michelle Mitchell and Consumers Energy )
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.
Here is a VIDEO: Prep Before the Storm along with the top five tips to help keep you and your family safe.
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
Did You Know?
You can be the first to get estimated restoration times via text, email or phone call. Residential customers can sign up for outage alerts at ConsumersEnergy.com/outage. Business customers can sign up for text alerts by texting REG to 232273 (CECARE) and providing their account number when prompted. Standard text charges may apply.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( Comments Off on 5 Tips to Prepare for Power Outages Before a Michigan Storm )
Our crews put 2015 into their record books by setting new performance standards for restoring power to Michigan homes and businesses. Here are five things you may not know about our storm restoration process:
- We restore facilities that impact public health, safety and commerce first.
Hospitals, police and fire agencies, radio and TV media outlets and water and sewer facilities are restored as soon as possible. Next, high-priority businesses and other facilities that affect the most customers are restored.
- Restoring power to our state can become a nationwide effort.
When storm damage is severe, Great Lakes Mutual Assistance utilities send crews nationwide to join our effort. During our December 2015 storms, more than 300 line workers from Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Kentucky were part of the effort to restore more than 250,000 homes and businesses.
- Employees not involved in restoration efforts volunteer to be wire guards.
We have extraordinary employee volunteers who jump at the chance to keep you safe by serving as volunteer wire guards in addition to their normal roles. By securing at least a 25 feet perimeter around downed wires, our trained volunteers make sure you stay away and stay alive.
- We work with the American Red Cross to prepare an emergency plan for those on powered life-support equipment.
The American Red Cross Identification Program provides aid to our electric customers who depend on electric powered life-support equipment, prescribed by a doctor. Examples include, but aren’t limited to: respirators, apnea monitors and kidney dialysis machines. Download an Identification Form at ConsumersEnergy.com/lifesupport.
- We’re always looking to speed up restoration times.
Outside of major storms, the average Consumers Energy customer was restored within three hours, last year. That is an improvement of 40 minutes in comparison to five years ago. We’ve spent nearly $450 million in the last five years to improve our electric system and will continue to do more to replace older equipment and clear trees away from power lines.
Did You Know?
You can be the first to get estimated restoration times via text, email or phone call. Sign up today for outage alerts and get tips to prepare for an outage at ConsumersEnergy.com/outage.
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As part of our commitment to leaving Michigan better than we found it, we’ve taken the next step in offsetting the “Classic Seven” plant retirements by assuming ownership of a 542-megawatt natural gas-fueled plant in Jackson.
Rather than building a new plant, we agreed to put Michigan first by purchasing the Jackson Generating Station in December 2015 — a choice that saved customers about $500 million. In addition to the purchase price savings, the Jackson plant — which started commercial operation in 2002 — provides efficiency, flexibility and a high-availability track record.
The plant burns natural gas — a cleaner fuel source with lower emissions — to power seven General Electric combustion turbines. Those turbines exhaust to heat-recovery steam generators that create steam to run two steam turbine generators and produce electricity.
“This flexible combination allows efficient, fast start-ups and rapid power output changes,” said Steve Wawro, Jackson Generating Station Asset Manager, who will oversee operations. “The plant has maintained excellent safety and operational performance, and will help us continue to meet the state’s energy needs while minimizing the impact on the environment and keeping jobs in Michigan.”
5 Things You Didn’t Know About Natural Gas:
- Natural gas is lighter than air
- Natural gas emits nearly 50 percent less carbon dioxide than coal when burned
- Natural gas changes from gas to liquid at -260 degrees Fahrenheit
- Natural gas comprises almost one-fourth of all primary energy used in the U.S.
- Natural gas supports the employment of nearly 3 million Americans
Learn more about natural gas at www.aga.orgRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
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/1MVhsO8Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( Comments Off on 5 Tips to Decorate Your Tree Safely )
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:
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:
- Get everyone out of the house and into fresh air
- Call 911 for immediate medical help
- Do not re-enter your home under any circumstance until help has arrived, your house has been investigated and the problem is corrected.
- 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/Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( Comments Off on Is it the Flu or Carbon Monoxide Poisoning? )
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:Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( Comments Off on Consumers Energy Welcomes New Fleet Addition )
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?
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/gascenterRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( Comments Off on Count On Us: Powered By Jodi Duffield & Consumers Energy )
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.
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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(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.
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.
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.comRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( Comments Off on Count On Us: Powered By Nora Marrakchi, Michael Parran and Consumers Energy )
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