Consumers Energy upgrades distribution network in Michigan 8 SEPTEMBER 2016

US utility Consumers Energy announced its plans to continue modernising its distribution network to improve its operations and customer service in Michigan.

The utility firm serving 6.7 million gas and electric consumers in Peninsula counties is upgrading its 29,000-mile natural gas distribution network to enhance its service to some 1.7 million customers in lower Michigan.

Commenting on the developments, Mary Palkovich, vice president of energy delivery at the utility firm, said: “By enhancing pipelines, installing new lines, welcoming new customers and providing new technology to improve customer service, we are working hard to ensure that our customers receive safe, reliable service and value from Consumers Energy.”

The projects currently being implemented by the company include 60 infrastructure projects involving replacement of existing pipelines with new lines, upgrading of two natural gas compressors and the construction of a new compressor station in Huron county.

The utility company is planning to add in 10,000 new customers by the end of 2016 .

In 2017, Consumers Energy will implement an automated metering infrastructure (AMI) project for its 1.2 million customers currently without smart meters.

The AMI project is expected to help the company ensure accurate power and gas billing.

Over the past five years, the utility has used $1.5 billion to enhance its natural gas system.

Since 2009, the company’s gas division has witnessed 141% growth in new business installations.

“We are working to increase safety and reliability from the time gas is received into our pipelines, until it is delivered to customers,” reiterated Palkovich.

Consumers Energy in AMI rollout

In early August, the company announced that it has budgeted $750 million to complete AMI rollout for its customers in the towns of Parma and Concord.

The programme will also include the deployment of the new metering system throughout the rest of Jackson County in December.

In addition to ensuring accurate billing, the new metering system will help customers reduce their power usage and costs.

Kathryn Burkholder, outreach coordinator for smart energy at Consumers Energy, commented: “It offers our customers the opportunity to go online and look at their hourly energy use. [Consumers Energy plans to install 800 EV charging stations].

“It gives us an opportunity to offer programs for our customers like a pre-paid program where they can pay as they go. There are lots of interesting programs available with the new meter technology.”

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