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Consumers Energy Receives Michigan PSC Approval For $3.7 Million Undergrounding Pilot Program

March 6, 2024
The company will bury 10 miles of electric lines in six Michigan counties in 2025 and aims for over 1,000 miles of line in the next five years.

Consumers Energy has received approval from the Michigan Public Service Commission for a targeted undergrounding pilot program worth $3.7 million to bury 10 miles of overhead power lines in 2025.

The pilot program will initiate Consumers Energy's long-term plans to move more power lines underground, strengthening the company's efforts to improve electric service for nearly 2 million Michigan homes and businesses. 

Buried power lines are better protected from common outage causes, including lightning, high winds, tornadoes, heavy snow, ice and falling tree limbs.

"Burying power lines will help make the grid stronger and more reliable," said Greg Salisbury, Consumers Energy's vice president of electric distribution engineering. "This pilot will help us learn even more about cost-effective ways to bury lines, allowing us to expand undergrounding projects in the future."

The pilot program will target circuits in Genesee, Livingston, Allegan, Ottawa, Montcalm, and Iosco counties having frequent, lengthy outages and are in areas with dense trees, often responsible for the outages.

Currently, underground lines account to about 15 percent of all Consumers Energy electric lines, most being in subdivisions and areas with high population density.  

The energy provider aims to bury over 1,000 miles of line in the next 5 years depending on regulatory approvals.

"It is important to note that burying lines might be the best solution for some areas but not others, added Salisbury. “Using a strategic approach and a variety of methods to strengthen the grid, we aim to ensure that all the communities we serve can count on us to deliver reliable electricity.”

Consumers Energy's Reliability Roadmap for a stronger electric grid includes investments in smart technology and automation, forestry work, and infrastructure upgrades. It is a proposal for serving Michigan and investing to meet the challenges of the future.

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