|This article relies on references to primary sources. (August 2008)|
Consumers Energy is a public utility that provides natural gas and electricity to more than 6 million of Michigan's 10 million residents. It serves customers in all 68 of the state’s Lower Peninsula counties. It is a division of CMS Energy. Its headquarters is in Jackson.
The company was founded in 1886 as Commonwealth Power Company by William A. Foote, originally tasked to install electric lighting in downtown Jackson. (His wife later founded Foote Hospital, also in Jackson, Michigan.) After a series of acquisitions and mergers involving other local electric, gas, and trolley companies which were properties of W.A. Foote, as well as Anton G. Hodenpyl and H. D. Walbridge, the company incorporated as Consumers Power Company in 1910 in Maine, and became part of the utility holding conglomerate Commonwealth and Southern, which held utilities in 10 other states.
Commonwealth and Southern dissolved in 1946, leaving Consumers Power (and all other utility holdings) an independent company. In 1968, the company reincorporated in Michigan and their headquarters were located in Jackson, Michigan. Consumers operated the Big Rock Point Nuclear Power Plant in Charlevoix from 1962 to 1997 and built the Palisades Nuclear Plant near South Haven in 1971, which is still in service.
In 1968, Consumers Power began construction of a nuclear power plant in Midland, Michigan, primarily for the Dow Chemical Company. The project's budget was $257 million, with completion anticipated in 1972. Extreme construction problems caused years of delays and costs soared. The Three Mile Island accident in 1979 resulted in a massive change in nuclear regulatory requirements and system redesign. When it was revealed that the containment buildings were settling and foundation cracks were discovered, Dow cancelled their contract with Consumers Power, and the project was abandoned in 1984. The $4.1 billion investment nearly bankrupted Consumers Power. However, in 1985, Consumers Power formed a partnership with eight other companies to convert Midland's abandoned nuclear plant into a gas-fired power plant. Transformation of the plant began in 1986 and was completed at a cost of $500 million. The Midland Cogeneration Venture began producing power in 1991 and that success restored faith in Consumers Power.
In 1997, the name of the company was changed to Consumers Energy.
Consumers Energy's trademark slogan is "Count on Us", and they are now a subsidiary of CMS Energy.
Because of utility regulatory changes, Consumers had to give up control of its transmission system; it opted instead to sell the system to the Michigan Electric Transmission Company (METC), currently an ITC Holdings company (which also owns Detroit Edison's transmission system under the "ITCTransmission" brand.) Consumers Energy's primary distribution voltages are 2.77/4.8kv, 4.8/8.32 kV, 7.2/12.47 kV, 7.97/13.8kv and 14.4/24.9 kV. Consumers retained its looped 23 and 46kV High Voltage subtransmission (HVD) systems and the radial 138 kV lines as well.
Consumers Energy has 7 power plants. Consumers Energy's largest power plant is the Karn-Weadock coal-fired generating station located on Saginaw Bay near Bay City. Other Consumers Energy coal-fired plants are the JH Campbell power plant between Holland and Grand Haven; the Cobb power plant in Muskegon and the Whiting Power Plant on Lake Erie in Luna Pier, just north of the Michigan/Ohio state line. Consumers also operates and co-owns (with Detroit Edison) the Ludington Pumped Storage Power Plant near Ludington.
Two generating facilities previously owned by Consumers Energy (but still serving Consumers Energy's system) are the Palisades Nuclear Generating Station, 5 miles south of South Haven and The Midland Cogeneration Venture in Midland.
On the Muskegon River, in Newaygo and Mecosta county, Consumers Energy operates 3 Hydroelectric Powerplant complexes. Together, the three dams (Rogers, Hardy and Croton) can generate about 45,500 kilowatts, with about 30,000 of that from Hardy, which is enough electricity to serve a community of nearly 23,000.
Following is a sortable complete list of Consumer Energy's hydroelectric generating facilties:
|Alcona Dam||Au Sable||8|
|Allegan Dam Hydro Power Plant||Kalamazoo||3|
|Cooke Dam||Au Sable||9|
|Five Channels Dam||Au Sable||6|
|Foote Dam||Au Sable||9|
|Hodenpyl Hydro Power Plant||Manistee||18|
|Loud Hydro Power Plant||Au Sable||4|
|Mio Hydro Power Plant||Au Sable||5|
|Rogers Hydro Power Plant||Muskegon||7|
|Webber Hydro Power Plant||Grand||4|
- Consumers Power Co. Baker Library at Harvard University
- Hylton, Richard D.: "Market Place; Nuclear Write-Off To Success Story" New York Times, September 25, 1989
- Lascari, Tony: "Former Midlander, ‘Pioneer for the Environment’, dies at 92" Midland Daily News, January 15, 2011
- The current Consumers Energy is renamed from Consumers Power Company incorporated in Michigan in 1968. The 1968 Consumers Power is the successor to a previous company incorporated in Maine in 1910 with the name Consumers Power Company. The 1910 Consumers Power, in turn, was the successor to W. A. Foote's Commonwealth Power Company established in 1886.
- D.E. Karn/J.C. Weadock Generating Complex Consumers Energy Official Site
- J.H. Campbell Generating Complex Consumers Energy Official Site
- B.C. Cobb Generating Plant Consumers Energy Official Site
- J.R. Whiting Generating Complex Consumers Energy Official Site
- Ludington Pumped Storage Consumers Energy Official Site
- Muskegon River Consumers Energy Official Site