Consumers Energy outlines vision for resilient electric grid
Consumers Energy presented a vision Monday for a future of improved grid reliability and a reduction in the number and duration of power outages.
The company said it’s planning to develop an almost “hurricane-strength” resilience to storms, with an ultimate goal of preventing any customers from being without power for more than 24 hours, and for no outage to affect more than 100,000 customers.
The utility has not set a timeline for the improvements.
But officials said they plan to significantly increase tree trimming in the near future, move more lines underground, and identify technology that can shorten outages.
Utilities in Michigan have been slow to move their lines underground because of the cost, but Greg Salisbury, the vice president of electric distribution engineering at Consumers, said that's no longer the case.
“We now can say that the cost of undergrounding a rural, single-phase line is par with the cost of hardening above ground and then doing the tree trimming that has to be done year-over-year.”
Company leaders said a trend toward higher winds and more intense storms requires significant investment in its grid’s resilience.
Consumers Energy will need approval from the Michigan Public Service Commission to start work on its plan, and to raise rates to bring in the required funds.
Editor's note: Consumers Energy is one of Michigan Radio's corporate sponsors.