A Consumers Energy lineman works on one of the projects building a more reliable electric grid. Consumers Energy photo.
(November 18, 2022 2:46 PM) Consumers Energy announced it is finishing more than 2,000 electric projects by the end of this year, aimed at building a more reliable power grid to reduce power outages. The projects being completed this year are providing better service for about 1 million out of 1.9 million homes and businesses that Consumers Energy serves across the state.
“Our No. 1 job is to keep the lights on for our customers,” said Chris Laird, Consumers Energy’s vice president of electric operations. “The work we’re doing takes a significant step to help ensure we deliver reliable energy 24/7. Consumers Energy will remain focused on improving our system every year to meet our goal of having fewer and shorter power outages for our customers.”
“We have shortened the average length of power outages and reduced the number of customers impacted by outages. More than 96 percent of customers impacted by outages in 2022 were restored in less than 24 hours,” said Greg Salisbury, Consumers Energy’s vice president of electric distribution engineering. “We are making progress and will continue to make improvements in the years to come.”
This year, work on the Consumers Energy electric system covered areas across the state and included:
· Clearing tree branches from 7,100 miles of power lines, addressing the number one cause of power outages in Michigan.
· Replacing 10,000 poles with sturdier material that can withstand higher winds.
· Upgrading, rebuilding, and expanding nearly 100 substations.
· Adding smart technology like 32 Automatic Transfer Reclosures (ATRs) [force4michigan.com] that help limit the frequency and duration of power outages.
· Strategically piloting a project to underground power lines in areas that would receive the greatest benefit for less cost.
Since 2020, Consumers Energy has evaluated all 60,000 miles of electric lines to prioritize fixing the circuits with the most frequent outages. The circuit upgrades through 2021 saw 70 percent fewer outages.
This year’s efforts are part of Consumers Energy’s larger continued efforts to build a stronger energy grid through its five-year, $5.4 billion Electric Reliability Plan. That plan is a blueprint for serving Michigan today and innovating to meet the challenges of the coming decades. Continued investments such as trimming trees, replacing poles and wires and upgrading substations and key equipment are top priorities, especially with climate change causing more frequent and severe weather events.