Working with homeowners and businesses in communities across Michigan, Consumers Energy is focusing on delivering energy reliably by clearing trees away from power lines.
"Over 500 workers are in the field right now, clearing limbs and branches away from power lines," said Guy Packard, Consumers Energy's vice president of electric operations. "Trees are a leading cause of power outages, so our forestry program is an effective way to keep the lights on for homes and businesses in all conditions."
Consumers Energy spent more than $45 million on forestry statewide last year. Projects across the state focus on where the most good can be done, based on which of the energy provider's 2,000 electric circuits are most affected by tree-related outages.
Consumers Energy works with communities where work takes place, sharing in advance of the actual work. Planners walk circuits where work is scheduled, talking to people in person or leaving contact information, and marking trees that will be trimmed. Letters also are mailed to all homeowners and businesses along circuits where work will take place.
"We want to communicate clearly with people who care about the trees that beautify our communities, and to ensure there are no surprises," Packard said. "We encourage people to share their thoughts, and to contact us at any time if they believe a tree could affect their electric service."
Consumers Energy also works to make the public aware of their role in keeping trees away from power lines. The Arbor Day Foundation's "The Right Tree in the Right Place" campaign aims to build awareness of planting the proper trees near electric lines.
No trees should ever be planted under high-voltage transmission lines, which transmit electricity across the state. Only certain trees should be planted under distribution lines – the power lines that serve communities and households.