Natural Gas Safety
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:
- MISS DIG receives a request.
- 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.
- 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:
- Call 811/MISS DIG three working days before you plan to dig.
- Make sure all utility lines are marked. Contact 811/MISS DIG to confirm.
- Respect the marks made by utility locators when using shovels or power equipment. Avoid using mechanized digging equipment near marks.
- Choose another location to begin your project if the original site is near utility lines.
- 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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“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 )
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 )
Celebrating the holidays with family and friends is never a dull moment. From baking Grandma’s cookies to attending a handful of parties, December is a fast-paced month filled with heartwarming traditions. One tradition everyone should be practicing during this festive time of year is holiday safety.
According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are about 250 injuries a day during the holiday season. For Consumers Energy, keeping Michigan as safe as possible is first priority. We’re committed to informing our residents, businesses and employees about the ways to prevent accidents and keep injuries from ruining joyous occasions.
Do you know the warning signs of carbon monoxide poisoning? READ MORE
From our family to yours, check these holiday safety tips off your to-do list this season:
- Choose a fresh pine tree to decorate your home and be sure to water it frequently. Place the tree in a stand that will not tip over and keep the tree away from heat sources and exits.
- Keep burning candles away from decorations and other materials that can catch fire. Do not leave children unattended in a room with lighted candles.
- Never leave the stove unattended while cooking, and turn pot handles inward on the stove and out of children’s reach. Go green in the kitchen
- Have at least one working smoke alarm on each level of your home, especially near sleeping areas.
- Make sure the fireplace flue is open before starting a fire, and never burn wrappings or your pine tree in the fireplace.
- Always keep a fire extinguisher handy just in case.
- If you’re traveling this season and see working crews, slow down and go around to keep everyone safe from harm.
This Veterans Day, Consumers Energy honors our veteran employees as well as the 24.9 million across the nation who have served in the armed forces. The holiday, celebrated every year on Nov. 11, is marked by parades across America and a national ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. This year marks the 96th anniversary of the holiday– 96 years after the end of World War I. Video below property of The History Channel.
A Tribute to Veterans, By Veterans
We have many veteran employees who are proud to work for a company that celebrates individuals of all experiences. Check out a few perspectives below:
“Veterans Day is the most important day of the year to me because of all the men and women who served their country to protect freedom and liberty for their family, friends, and all Americans. That is why this country we live in today is so great.”
U.S. Navy QA Inspector, Fire Marshall, Officer of the Deck, Damage Control Officer and Hurricane Warden
Consumers Energy Combinations Job-13 in Material Logistics and Inventory Management in Bad Axe
“I would encourage employees to pause and take a minute to think of what they have. Think of what they can do or become. You have these rights because of a Veteran. I thank the ones that came before me and I will continue to support the ones serving after me.”
U.S. Army Ranger
Production Supervisor at the Karn plant
“Veterans Day is a very special day. Without the sacrifices made by the men and women of the services, our liberty and freedom would not be what it is today nor would the future of America be protected.”
U.S. Army Mobile Power Generation Operations and Maintenance Technician
Maintenance Lead at the Whiting plant
Consumers Energy Helps Train Veterans for New Careers
The Consumers Energy Foundation provided a $2,500 grant to NACE Detroit Section, to help U.S. military veterans become certified in cathodic protection, a field in demand in the pipeline industry.
The hands-on training showed the veterans how the classroom training they had been receiving at Fort Custer, helps improve the integrity of steel and keep pipelines safe. The average salary for corrosion professionals in Michigan is nearly $85,000. Read the full story.
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Consumers Energy knows gas. As one of the largest natural gas distribution companies in the U.S., we operate more than 27,000 miles of pipeline and serve more than 1.7 million customers in Michigan. We’re consistently increasing the reliability of our natural gas pipelines to match gas pipeline quality standards, and protecting the safety of our neighbors who live or work near our pipelines and facilities.
Natural Gas: Get the Facts
Natural gas is a low-cost, versatile industry source that when burned, produces energy in the form of heat and light. Check out these natural gas facts you need to know:
Q. What is Natural Gas?
- Layers of buried plants and animals from thousands of years ago create a fossil fuel called natural gas, that contains energy stored from the sun in the form of carbon
- When the fossil fuel is exposed to intense heat and pressure, its stored energy can be transferred into power
Q. How is Natural Gas Produced?
- Natural gas is extracted from underground storage
- It’s then treated at gas plants to remove any contaminates
- Pipelines transport the natural gas to our power plants so it can be converted to electricity
Q. What are the three ways power plants can convert natural gas to electricity?
- After burning the gas in a boiler to produce steam, it’s then used by a steam turbine to generate electricity
- By burning natural gas in a combustion turbine, it can then generate electricity
- By combining the two methods above, natural gas can be generated into electricity. The process includes burning the natural gas in a combustion turbine, using the hot combustion turbine exhaust to create steam, which drives a steam turbine.
Get energy-savings and natural gas safety tips at ConsumersEnergy.com/gascenter.
Q. What if you smell natural gas or a “rotten egg” odor?
- Leave the area immediately
- Call us toll-free at (800) 477-5050 from a safe location
- We’ll respond 24/7 at no charge
The crisp, cool air and the brightly-colored leaves are among the first signs that fall is coming. They’re also one of the first signals as families start up their furnaces across Michigan. While the heat is necessary to keep your homes cozy during the cold months, it’s an especially important time to protect your family from carbon monoxide poisoning.
Governor Rick Snyder has declared this week Carbon Monoxide Safety and Awareness Week in Michigan. This declaration serves as a reminder for residents to take preventative measures and learn to recognize the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.
The Silent Killer
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a toxic gas that’s odorless, colorless and tasteless and is produced when common household appliances aren’t properly ventilated. Carbon monoxide poisoning can occur from appliances like:
- Wood Stoves
- Charcoal grills
- Kerosene heaters
- Gasoline-powered generators
Know the Signs
Infants, the elderly, people with respiratory problems and pets are especially at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. When the deadly gas is breathed into the body, it is combined with the blood, preventing it from absorbing oxygen. Warning signs of a CO leak include:
- Stale/stuffy air
- Excessive moisture on windows and walls
- Soot buildup around appliance vents
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning often mimic the flu and include headaches, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath and burning of the eyes. Prolonged exposure can cause disorientation, convulsions, unconsciousness and eventually death.
9 Tips to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
There are many different ways CO can cause poisoning, even uncommonly through blocked vehicle tailpipes and unventilated trailers. You can protect your family from carbon monoxide poisoning with these tips:
- Install an Underwriters Laboratory (UL) approved CO detector with a powerful audible alarm. The best models plug into a standard electrical outlet and have important features like a rechargeable battery backup in case of a power outage.
- Make sure fuel-burning appliances are properly installed and have them maintained regularly.
- Visually inspect flues and chimneys on an annual basis to keep them clean of debris.
- Repair rusted or pitted flue pipes leading from your furnace and water heater to the chimney.
- Keep the furnace air intake clear and unobstructed.
- Never use a gas range or unvented space heaters (propane, gas, oil or kerosene) to heat a home or building.
- Never run a vehicle in the garage, even with the garage door open.
- Start lawn mowers and snow blowers outside, not inside the garage.
- Never use a portable generator or barbecue grill inside your home or on an enclosed porch or garage.
If you suspect CO poisoning in your home:
- Get everyone (pets included) out of the house and into fresh air
- Call 911 for immediate medical help
- Do not re-enter the house under any circumstance until help has arrived, your house has been investigated and the problem is corrected
- Call a qualified contractor or your gas utility to have your appliances checked
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
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It’s easy to be swept away with the fun of October. Pumpkin patches, apple cider, hayrides and who could forget trick-or-treating! But one of the most important events every homeowner should focus on during the month of October is winter weatherization.
Try our free Home Energy Analyzer to find ways to stay warmer and spend less money on heating this winter.
Michigan Winter Checklist for Your Home
Consumers Energy is preparing for the upcoming cold months, and you should too! Check these winter weatherization tips off your list before the first snowfall:
- Replace Furnace Filter
A dirty furnace filter restricts airflow, making your fan motor work harder and your energy bill rise rapidly. Dirty furnace filters also reduce the air quality in your home, aggravating allergies and asthma for your family. Choose a furnace filter that provides a balance of particle capture and airflow to prevent stress on the system. This will reduce the amount of energy needed to reach desired temperatures during the winter.
- Test Run Your Heater
Testing your heater before the winter months can help save you both money and unnecessary shivers. Set your heater for 80 degrees and check all the vents in your home. This is also a great opportunity to move any obstacles blocking your heating vents. Make sure to turn off the heat directly after the test run. If your heater isn’t running properly, contact a qualified service technician before temperatures begin to drop. Consumers Energy offers rebates up to $900 for natural gas furnaces.
- Install a Programmable Thermostat
A programmable thermostat lets you automatically turn your heat up before you get out of bed, down when you leave for work, up before you return from work and then down again before bedtime. Installing one before the heating season could also save you as much as 20 percent on your heating costs. Consumers Energy offers $10-$50 rebates for programmable thermostats.
- Reset Your Ceiling Fan
Set your ceiling fan to spin on the low setting in reverse (clockwise). This will re-circulate warmer air that may be trapped near the ceiling down to floor level.
- Clean Out Your Chimney
Who can resist a warm fireplace during the winter? Before use, make sure it’s clear of bird or animal nests and soot. Have it swept and checked for damage or cracks. Unknown damage could be a huge fire hazard for your home.
- Check for Carbon Monoxide Leaks
Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas that is colorless, odorless and tasteless and can be produced when appliances aren’t operating or venting properly. It’s important to protect your family from the silent killer, especially during the winter months. Easily check for leaks by installing a carbon monoxide alarm that can be plugged in year-round. If you already have one and it’s past the warranty, replace it!
- Prep Your Windows
Check for leaks in your windows by feeling around for cool air during a chilly, fall day. Caulk or fill if necessary. If your home’s windows simply need an upgrade, there’s no better time to switch to high performance windows. Double-pane or triple-pane works the best. You can also use clear plastic or vinyl sheeting on the inside of your windows to make a temporary double-pane window. Consumers Energy offers rebates on windows and insulation.
- Check Your Doors
Just like windows, your doors can let in cold air if there are leaks. Check for weather-stripping on the side and bottoms and replace it if you feel cold air slipping through.
- Pack Emergency Supplies
Dangerous winter weather may happen without much notice—but that doesn’t mean your family can’t be prepared. Watch Consumers Energy’s video below to see what your family should be packing:
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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
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