OREANDA-NEWS. Consumers Energy continues enhancing the safety and reliability of its 29,000-mile natural gas system that provides affordable service to more than 1.7 million customers throughout Lower Michigan.

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"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," said Mary Palkovich, vice president of energy delivery.

"Over the past five years our natural gas system investment has totaled nearly $1.5 billion, which demonstrates Consumers Energy's commitment to maintain and improve utility infrastructure," said Palkovich.   Current projects include:

  • 60 enhanced infrastructure improvement projects across the state to upgrade existing pipe to ensure continued reliability and safety. This work is being completed by nearly 500 Consumers Energy employees;
  • Enhancements to St. Clair and Freedom natural gas compressor facilities, along with construction of a new gas compressor station in Huron County that will improve natural gas service in the Thumb area;
  • Adding about 10,000 new residential, business and commercial customers this year and the associated gas mains, services and meters. New business installations have grown by 141 percent since 2009;
  • Gas asset relocation and expansion for county, state and municipal civic improvement projects and new business customer growth. Between 2011 and 2015 Consumers Energy saw an increase of 99 percent in the amount of main footage that has been replaced, and an increase of 165 percent in the number of natural gas services replaced;
  • An ongoing pipeline integrity program using sophisticated assessment tools to inspect pipelines.

Consumers Energy is also planning to begin an automated meter reading program in 2017 for approximately 1.2 million natural gas only customers that are not currently part of the company's electric/combination automated program. The new meters assure accurate monthly bills, and estimated bills will be largely eliminated.

"We are working to increase safety and reliability from the time gas is received into our pipelines, until it is delivered to customers. Our core commitment to serving customers, communities and our state has helped guide our decisions for the past 130 years, and today more than ever helps guide us to improve the way we do business," Palkovich said.