Consumers Energy this week announced plans for $100 million of investment in 2022 to reduce both the number and length of power outages. The energy provider will make significant upgrades to its high voltage distribution (HVD) system in an effort to make the power grid more reliable for Consumers Energy’s electric customers.
“As an energy provider, we know keeping the lights on is job No. 1 for us. And as weather becomes more severe, Michigan needs a power grid that’s more reliable and resilient. That’s why these upgrades are so important,” said Tim Sparks, Consumers Energy’s vice president of electric grid integration. “The HVD system is the backbone of our power grid. Making these improvements will help us deliver more reliable energy that is clean and affordable to our electric customers.”
The 2022 investment represents a continued focus on increasing investment in the HVD system.
A large part the planned investment to the HVD system in 2022 is on HVD lines, and upgrades will impact approximately 130,000 Consumers Energy electric customers across the state. Work planned includes:
- Rebuilding nearly 40 miles of HVD lines
- Rehabilitating over 64 miles of HVD line poletop equipment
- Replacing 750 poles
- Installing new technology that will enable Consumers Energy to more quickly and effectively isolate and restore outages.
The HVD system connects the electric transmission system to Consumers Energy’s low voltage distribution (LVD) system. The HVD system carries electricity at either 46,000 volts or 138,000 volts. Consumers Energy’s network of distribution substations and smaller transformers then step the voltage down progressively for safe delivery to homes and businesses.
This year’s HVD upgrades are part of Consumers Energy’s larger efforts to build a more reliable and resilient energy grid through its five-year, $5.4 billion Electric Reliability Plan. That plan 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.
Consumers Energy has increased investment in forestry by more than 60 percent since 2018 as trees are the number one cause for power outages, and the plan includes a significant increase in spending — more than $500 million over five years — to keep distribution lines clear.
Through the reliability plan, Consumers Energy plans to reduce the average length of time that customers are without power by nearly 15% from 2020 to 2025.
Consumers Energy is Michigan’s largest energy provider, providing natural gas and/or electricity to 6.8 million of the state’s 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.