Consumers says automatic transfer reclosers will improve reliability

JACKSON–Consumers Energy today announced plans to install 123 new automatic transfer reclosers in 2023 to help prevent power outages and improve electric reliability for customers. The energy provider’s investment in automation is a key part of the company’s overall electric reliability plan that aims to reduce both the number and length of power outages.

ATRs are reliability technologies that isolate problems on electric lines and transfer power automatically. This technology improves public safety and reduces the number of customers impacted by outages. Consumers Energy has nearly 470 of these 800-pound devices currently on the electric system. The 2023 ATR deployment plan will target areas that have been most impacted by outages over the past several years.

“After the February ice storms, we know customers are asking for a stronger and smarter power grid,” said Chris laird, Consumer Energy vice president of electric operations. “By focusing on tree trimming, upgrading our electric grid, and using automation and other technology to quickly detect and resolve problems, we can drastically improve the electric grid and make it more reliable for all our customers. ATRs–sometimes referred to as the traffic light of the power grid–are one of many valuable tools that help reduce the number of outages our customers face. The ATRs are programmed to detect power loss and follow predetermined actions to help reroute power in another direction. We remain committed to doing more to update the grid and make it work better for our customers.”

The majority of the 2023 ATRs are expected to be complete and online this summer.

Consumers Energy estimates ATRs were able to help prevent tens of thousands of outages in 2022 alone. For example, in the August 2022 thunderstorms, ATRs prevented outages for nearly 9,000 customers, including 770 businesses, by isolating outages to the smallest area possible.

“The ATRs are instrumental when storms come through and cause outages,” Laird said. “They will be a big part of our reliability future and keeping outages to a minimum.”

Company officials said Consumers continues to invest in the grid to increase safety, prevent outages, and better serve customers, including $15 million budgeted annually for ATRs. The energy provider’s overall $5.4 billion electric reliability plan is a blueprint for serving Michigan today while investing and innovating to meet the challenges of tomorrow. In addition to ATRs, investments are being made to trim trees, replace aging equipment and upgrade key equipment such as substations. These investments are even more important with climate change causing more frequent and severe weather events.

Consumers Energy is Michigan’s largest energy provider, providing natural gas and/or electricity to 6.7 million of the state’s 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.

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