“The main priority of our plan is simple: fewer, shorter and less frequent power outages for our customers which requires a modernized grid,” said Guy Packard, vice president of electric operations. “Like any tool that people use to power their lives – whether that’s a car, cell phone, an appliance or a house – the energy grid needs care and investment to work properly without interuption. We’re committed to powering our customers’ lives with reliable energy now and in the future with this requested investment.”
Consumers Energy’s five-year, $5.4 billion Electric Distribution Infrastructure Investment Plan (EDIIP) is a blueprint for serving Michigan today and innovating to meet the challenges of the coming decades. 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. The company plans to invest roughly $1 billion annually to upgrade the power grid and improve reliability and resiliency through 2025. Consumers Energy is also bringing its distribution system into the 21st century with smart meters, sensors and automation devices working together to serve customers and provide enhanced reliability and efficiency.
Other major components in the rate change request include:
- Making it easier for residential customers to purchase and install an electric vehicle charger and provide other EV incentives;
- Expanding a proposed economic development rate which would help attract new business and encourage existing businesses to expand and grow jobs in the Great Lakes State;
- Increasing clean energy investments, including doubling the size of its distributed generation program which would bring more solar energy to Michigan;
- Expanding demand response programs that help customers save money and reduce energy waste by using electricity at optimal times; and
- Support the purchase of the Covert Generating Station, a cleaner, highly-efficient, 1,176-megawatt natural gas-fired power plant in Van Buren County.
“To protect Michigan’s environment for future generations, we have proposed to eliminate coal as a fuel source for electricity by 2025 – but this plan will take every ounce of effort to ensure we can reach this goal while making sure electricity is more reliable and affordable for all,” added Packard. “Additionally, we are focused on growing businesses here in Michigan and want to get ahead of the global marketplace to attract and retain jobs which requires competitive electric rates for our largest job-creators.”
The final impact on customer bills will not be determined until the MPSC makes its decision in early 2023. If the plan is approved as proposed, an average household will see its electric bill increase by about $7.50 per month. Through our reliability plan, we plan to reduce the average length of time that customers are without power by nearly 15% from 2020 to 2025.
Additionally, to help support those customers struggling, in January 2022, Consumers Energy contributed $3.5 million to establish a new percent of income payment program pilot to help 1,500 low-income customers beginning in October 2022. The Company also contributed this winter $1 million to United Way of Jackson County and TrueNorth Community Services, two Michigan nonprofits with long histories of partnering with the Company to assist customers who are having trouble paying their energy bills.