Consumers Energy approved to bury 10 miles of power lines in six counties

JACKSON–Consumers Energy announced a targeted undergrounding pilot program has been approved by the Michigan Public Service Commission. An $3.7 million investment will enable the company to bury 10 miles of overhead power lines in the next year.

The pilot program will kick-start Consumers Energy’s long-term plans to move more power lines underground, bolstering the company’s efforts to improve electric service for nearly 2 million Michigan homes and businesses. Buried power lines are better protected from common outage causes, including lightning, high winds, tornadoes, heavy snow, ice and falling tree limbs.

“We can’t control mother nature, but we can control how we prepare for more extreme weather,” said Chris Laird, Consumers Energy’s vice president of electric operations. “Burying power lines is just one tool we can use in our growing toolbox to prevent outages from impacting our customers. We are committed to delivering more reliable energy for all customers.”

Added Greg Salisbury, Consumers vice president of electric distribution engineering: “Burying power lines will help make the grid stronger and more reliable. This pilot will help us learn even more about cost-effective ways to bury lines, allowing us to expand undergrounding projects in the future.”

The pilot program will target circuits in Genesee, Livingston, Allegan, Ottawa, Montcalm, and Iosco counties that have frequent, lengthy outages and are in areas with dense trees, which are often responsible for the outages.

Underground lines currently make up about 15 percent of all Consumers Energy electric lines, most being in subdivisions and areas with high population density. In the future, the energy provider aims to bury over 1,000 miles of line in the next 5 years, subject to regulatory approval.

“It is important to note that burying lines might be the best solution for some areas but not others,” Salisbury said. “Using a strategic approach and a variety of methods to strengthen the grid, we aim to ensure that all the communities we serve can count on us to deliver reliable electricity.”

The Reliability Roadmap, Consumers Energy’s plan for a smarter and stronger electric grid, includes investments in smart technology and automation, forestry work, and infrastructure upgrades. It is a blueprint for serving Michigan today while investing and innovating to meet the challenges of tomorrow.

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. Consumers Energy knows job No. 1 is to keep the lights on for customers. We are committed to delivering reliable, clean, and affordable energy to our customers 24/7.

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