Consumers Energy to bury electric lines in six Michigan counties

(UI) — Consumers Energy has announced the approval of a targeted undergrounding pilot program by the Michigan Public Service Commission. With a $3.7 million investment, the company plans to bury 10 miles of overhead power lines within the next year.

The pilot program marks the beginning of Consumers Energy’s long-term initiative to transition more power lines underground, with the goal of enhancing electric service for nearly 2 million homes and businesses in Michigan. Underground lines are less susceptible to common causes of outages such as lightning, high winds, tornadoes, heavy snow, ice, and falling tree limbs.

Greg Salisbury, Consumers Energy’s vice president of electric distribution engineering, stated, "Burying power lines will help make the grid stronger and more reliable. 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 focus on circuits in Genesee, Livingston, Allegan, Ottawa, Montcalm, and Iosco counties, targeting areas with frequent and prolonged outages, particularly those with dense tree coverage.

Currently, underground lines represent about 15% of all Consumers Energy electric lines, primarily in subdivisions and densely populated areas. The company aims to bury over 1,000 miles of line in the next five years, pending regulatory approval.

Salisbury emphasized that while burying lines may be the optimal solution for some areas, it may not be suitable for others. Consumers Energy plans to employ a strategic approach and various methods to strengthen the grid, ensuring reliable electricity delivery to all communities.

The Reliability Roadmap, Consumers Energy’s strategy for a more robust electric grid, encompasses investments in smart technology, automation, forestry work, and infrastructure upgrades. It serves as a blueprint for meeting Michigan's energy needs today while preparing for future challenges.

As Michigan’s largest energy provider, Consumers Energy is committed to delivering reliable, clean, and affordable energy to its customers across all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.

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