Consumers Energy continues $1B annual investment into natural gas system with new rate case

Published on December 21, 2023 by Chris Galford

© Consumers Energy

Work continues under Consumers Energy of Michigan’s Natural Gas Delivery Plan, with 30 miles of pipeline replaced across three counties in 2023, and the filing of a new natural gas rate case with the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC).

Investments like these are meant to reduce long-term costs to customers and get aging pipes out of service. This year, Consumers Energy also undertook upgrades to transmission infrastructure, replaced outdated mains and services, and more.

“While exploration of other affordable, clean energy alternatives continues, natural gas remains the most cost-effective means of heating homes and businesses in places like Michigan,” Chris Fultz, vice president of gas operations for Consumers Energy said. “We take seriously our responsibility to provide that gas to millions of customers that need it from us, and that is why we’re making our system stronger, safer and more affordable than ever before.”

Still, more work leads to more costs. In response to its rate case filing, Consumers put out a statement noting that such measures represent a combination of plans for making necessary repairs, upgrading current equipment and investing in new, cleaner technology, with an ultimate goal of fewer, shorter and less frequent power outages. Tree trimming, pole replacements and upgrades to key equipment, as well as deployment of smart meters, sensors and other technology and incentives were also noted as possibilities.

According to the company, small increases could follow on bills as a result.

“Our ultimate goal is to keep costs as low as possible for our customers in the years to come, but we have to make these investments in the short term to achieve that goal,” Holly Bowers, vice president of gas engineering and supply for Consumers Energy said. “We understand the significant burden even a small increase can be for our most vulnerable customers, and that is why we’ve also continued to invest in and develop programs and opportunities that can reduce that burden and provide assistance in other meaningful ways.”