Consumers Energy

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Consumers Energy
Industry Electric utilities, Natural Gas Utilities
Founded 1886
Headquarters Jackson, Michigan, United States
Area served
Parent CMS Energy

Consumers Energy is a public utility that provides natural gas and electricity to 6.6 million of Michigan's 10 million residents.[1] It serves customers in all 68 of the state’s Lower Peninsula counties. It is the primary subsidiary of CMS Energy.[2] The company was founded in 1886 and is currently headquartered in Jackson, Michigan.[3]


CMS Energy headquarters in downtown Jackson

The company was founded in 1886 as Commonwealth Power Company by William A. Foote, who was originally tasked to install electric lighting in downtown Jackson.[4][5] 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 Henry. D. Walbridge, the company incorporated as Consumers Power Company in 1910 in Maine.[6] It became part of the utility holding conglomerate Commonwealth and Southern, which held utilities in 10 other states. His wife later founded Foote Hospital, now Allegiance Hospital, also in Jackson, Michigan.

Commonwealth and Southern dissolved in 1946, leaving Consumers Power (and all other utility holdings) an independent company.[7] After serving Michigan for more than 80 years, the company reincorporated in Michigan in 1968[8] and maintained their headquarters in Jackson, Michigan.[9] 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 was sold to Entergy.[10]

In 1968, Consumers Power began construction of a nuclear power plant in Midland, Michigan, primarily for the Dow Chemical Company.[11] However, construction issues caused delays and increased costs. The Three Mile Island accident in 1979 resulted in a massive change in nuclear regulatory requirements and system redesign. When it was revealed 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 natural gas-fired power plant.[12] 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.[13][14][15]

In 1997, the name of the company was changed to Consumers Energy.[16][17] In 2011, Consumers Energy received approval to establish a 100-megawatt wind energy facility in Michigan’s Mason County called Lake Winds Energy Park®. In 2014, the company announced their second wind farm in Tuscola County with a total investment of $250 million, and named it Cross Winds® Energy Park.[18][19] By 2015, Consumers Energy produced ten percent of its electricity from renewable sources.[20]

In 2009, Consumers Energy launched comprehensive electric and natural gas energy efficiency programs that included rebates and incentives for homes and businesses.[21][22] Consumers Energy's trademark slogan is "Count on Us®,", and it is the primary subsidiary of CMS Energy.[23]

System information[edit]

Main article: ITC Transmission

Because of utility regulatory changes, Consumers 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 23kV and 46kV high voltage sub-transmission (HVD) systems and its radial 138 kV lines as well.

Generating portfolio[edit]

Consumers Energy’s utility-owned generation portfolio consists of a hydroelectric system, including part owner of Ludington Pumped Storage, wind farms nuclear power plant, and coal-fired plants and natural gas peakers.[24][25]


Consumers Energy owns 13 hydroelectric facilities or dams along five rivers in Michigan.[26] Built between 1906 and 1935, the hydros have a combined generating capacity of about 130 megawatts, enough to serve about 70,000 people. Near the hydros are campgrounds, boat launches and nature trails that are popular spots for canoeing, fishing and bird watching. The facilities are located on the Au Sable River (Mio Hydro, Alcona Hydro, Loud Hydro, Five Channels Hydro, Cooke Hydro, Foote Hydro), Grand River (Webber Hydro), Kalamazoo River (Allegan Hydro), Manistee River (Hodenpyl Hydro, Tippy Hydro) and Muskegon River (Rogers Hydro, Hardy Hydro, Croton Hydro).[27] Operating since 1907, the Webber Hydro on the Grand River is the company’s oldest operating hydroelectric facility. The Croton Hydro on the Muskegon River was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on Aug. 16, 1979.[28]

Following is a complete, sortable list of Consumers Energy's hydroelectric generating facilities:

Plant River Power (MW) Notes
Alcona Dam Au Sable 8
Allegan Hydro Kalamazoo 3
Cooke Dam Au Sable 9
Croton Dam Muskegon 9
Five Channels Dam Au Sable 6
Foote Dam Au Sable 9
Hardy Dam Muskegon 30
Hodenpyl Hydro Manistee 18
Loud Hydro Au Sable 4
Mio Hydro Au Sable 5
Rogers Hydro Muskegon 7
Tippy Dam Manistee 20
Webber Hydro Grand 4
  • Pumped Storage

Consumers Energy also operates and co-owns (with Detroit Edison) the Ludington Pumped Storage Power Plant near Ludington.[29] Built between 1969-73, the plant sits on a 1,000-acre site along the Lake Michigan shoreline. It includes an 842-acre reservoir that can store up to 27 billion gallons of water — the equivalent of 2 million backyard swimming pools.


Consumers Energy operated the Big Rock Point Nuclear Power Plant near Charlevoix, Michigan. The plant operated for 35 years, until 1997 when it was shut down. It was Michigan's first nuclear power plant and the United States' fifth nuclear plant, capable of producing 67 megawatts of electricity.[30]

Fossil fuels[edit]

Consumers Energy's largest power plant is the Karn-Weadock[31] coal-fired generating station located on Saginaw Bay near Bay City. Other Consumers Energy coal-fired plants are the JH Campbell[32] power plant between Holland and Grand Haven; the Cobb power plant in Muskegon;[33] and the Whiting power plant[34] on Lake Erie in Luna Pier, just north of the Michigan- Ohio state line. The company will shut down its seven oldest coal-fired generating plants in 2016.[35]

Two generating facilities previously owned by Consumers Energy (but still serving Consumers Energy's system) are the Palisades Nuclear Generating Station (five miles south of South Haven) and The Midland Cogeneration Venture in Midland.[36]

  • Peakers

Consumers Energy uses natural gas and oil peaking units to respond quickly to Michigan’s energy demand during daily, weekly and seasonal highs and lows.[37] These include the Zeeland Generating Station and combustion turbine stations.

Natural gas distribution and storage[edit]

Consumers Energy is a natural gas distributor in Michigan. Its annual quantity of 373 billion cubic feet is distributed to its residential and business customers.[38] The company purchases all of the natural gas that it sells. It serves more than 1.7 million customers, and its transmission and distribution pipelines span over 27,000 miles.[39] In 2015, Consumers Energy committed to invest approximately $200 million to enhance its natural gas system across Michigan.[40]

Consumers Energy also stores natural gas by injecting it into natural underground porous rock formations that were once underground gas fields. These formations hold natural gas much like a sponge holds water. Consumers Energy buys gas during warmer months when it generally costs less and there is less demand and then stores it underground. The system is one of the largest in the United States.[41]


Annually, Consumers Energy awards about $10 million to Michigan nonprofit organizations through grants, employee and retiree contributions and, corporate giving.[42] It has helped to raise over $1.8 million towards United Ways Michigan campaign initiatives, created fund-raising campaigns at their facilities and participated in employee-volunteer events.[43] Consumers Energy has also worked on early childhood development and education in Michigan and has also received Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) compliant certificates for its efforts to promote environmental education.[44][45][46]

In 2013, Consumers Energy was given the William Booth Award by The Salvation Army in recognition of its long history of philanthropic activities and leadership for the PeopleCare assistance program.[47][48] Since the beginning of PeopleCare program, it has contributed $27 million in energy bill credits.[49][50]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Consumers Energy to expand renewable energy with new 100-megawatt wind farm, Crain's Detroit Business, 16 September 2015
  2. ^ "Consumers Energy prepares for blustery conditions". 23 December 2015. WZZM. 
  3. ^ "Consumers Energy, Detroit Edison Open to Compete With Others.". Highbeam. 4 July 1999. 
  4. ^ Patricia Snoblen (2013). Jackson County. Arcadia Publishing. p. 127. ISBN 1467110442. 
  5. ^ Leanne Smith (21 October 2011). "Ella Sharp Museum looks at Consumers Energy founder William A. Foote with new exhibit". Mlive. 
  6. ^ "Consumers Power Co.". Harvard Business School. 
  7. ^ Henry Clifford Spurr, Ellsworth Nichols (1950). Public Utilities Reports. Lawyers Cooperative Publishing Company. 
  8. ^ Consumers Power Co. Baker Library at Harvard University
  9. ^ "Michigan-Based Consumer Energy to Sell Power to Philadelphia Firm.". 
  10. ^ "Big Rock Point". 
  11. ^ John o'Dell (11 February 1985). "N-Plant 'Whistle-Blower' Disillusioned : His $100-Million Lawsuit Against Bechtel Power Corp. Is Nearing Trial". Los Angeles Times. 
  12. ^ Michael Arndt (19 October 1987a). "Electric firm generates its own comeback". Chicago Tribune. 
  13. ^ Hylton, Richard D.: "Market Place; Nuclear Write-Off To Success Story" New York Times, September 25, 1989
  14. ^ Lascari, Tony: "Former Midlander, ‘Pioneer for the Environment’, dies at 92" Midland Daily News, January 15, 2011
  15. ^ "Consumers Energy.(promotes four employees)". 1 July 2001. 
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ "CMS Energy buying Duke Energy units". 2 November 1998. 
  18. ^ Heather Jordan (16 September 2015). "100-megawatt wind farm coming to Huron County, Consumers Energy to buy power". Mlive. 
  19. ^ "Consumers Energy to expand renewable energy with new 100-megawatt wind farm". Crain's Detroit Business. 16 September 2015. 
  20. ^ "Report measures impact of renewable portfolio standard". Crain's Detroit Business. 15 January 2016. 
  21. ^ "Customer Use of Consumers Energy's Online Billing Sees Steady Growth in First Decade; Significant Green Benefits.". 30 October 2009. 
  22. ^ "Xcel Energy Overview of 2009/2010 Programs (And Lessons Learned So Far)" (PDF). Retrieved 17 January 2016. 
  23. ^ "With Utilities Fully Priced, the Only 4 Stocks to Buy in 2015". 6 January 2015. 
  24. ^ "Consumers Energy Moving Forward on Renewable Energy and Energy Optimization; Customers to See More Green Power and Energy-Saving Incentives; Files Plans With MPSC.". Highbeam. 8 March 2009. 
  25. ^ Rebecca Kruth (18 August 2015). "Consumers Energy launching new solar energy program". Michigan Radio. 
  26. ^ Jay Greene (8 September 2013). "DTE to expand pilot project to turn landfill gas into usable fuel". Crain's Detroit Business. 
  27. ^ Muskegon River Consumers Energy Official Site
  28. ^ National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  29. ^ Ludington Pumped Storage Consumers Energy Official Site
  30. ^ Robert L. Ferguson (2014). Nuclear Waste in Your Backyard. Archway Publishing. p. 302. ISBN 1480808598. 
  31. ^ D.E. Karn/J.C. Weadock Generating Complex Consumers Energy Official Site
  32. ^ J.H. Campbell Generating Complex Consumers Energy Official Site
  33. ^ B.C. Cobb Generating Plant Consumers Energy Official Site
  34. ^ J.R. Whiting Generating Complex Consumers Energy Official Site
  35. ^ "Consumers Energy Closing Second-Most Coal Plants in Nation; Shows Need for Michigan-first Energy Plan". 11 May 2015. 
  36. ^ "Consumers Seeks License Extension.". Highbeam. 8 May 2000. 
  37. ^ "Dynegy to Build Michigan Plant.". Highbeam. 8 June 2001. 
  38. ^ "CMS Energy Corp (CMS.N)". Reuters. Retrieved 5 April 2016. 
  39. ^ "Consumers Energy investing $165M for reliability". The Detroit News. 14 May 2015. Retrieved 5 April 2016. 
  40. ^ Keith Goldberg (13 August 2013). "Consumers Energy To Pay $1.4M Over Deadly Mich. Gas Blasts". Law360. Retrieved 5 April 2016. 
  41. ^ "Milder Winter, Low Natural Gas Price Mean Winter Heating Savings for Consumers Energy Customers". 4 January 2016. Retrieved 5 April 2016. 
  42. ^ "Consumers Energy Dedicates New Marshall Training Center; $5 Million Investment Prepares Utility Workers for 21st Century and Growing Renewable Energy Market.". 12 September 2008. 
  43. ^ "Consumers Energy Foundation Scholarship to Honor Fallen Employee, Educate Future Line Workers". 10 July 2015. 
  44. ^ "Consumers Energy Reminds Hunters That Utility Land Is Private Property.". 18 September 2009. 
  45. ^ "Consumers Energy, Michigan State University Provide Opportunities for Next Generation of Graduates". 10 April 2015. 
  47. ^ "Can't Pay The Winter Heating Bill? There's Help Available". CBS. 7 April 2015. 
  48. ^ "Recognizing award nominees". Woodtv. 12 March 2015. 
  49. ^ "Consumers Energy Pipeline Inspections Part of Robust Program Designed to Enhance Safety and Reliability". 
  50. ^ "Consumers Energy partnering with The Salvation Army for heating help". Woodtv.