Consumers Energy filed its renewable energy and energy optimization plans with the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC). The plans will help Consumers Energy meet the requirements of Michigan's new energy reform law, PA 295, the Clean, Renewable and Energy Efficiency Act of 2008.
"Consumers Energy is moving forward with an aggressive plan to develop new renewable energy sources, and to help customers reduce their electric and natural gas use through energy efficiency programs," said John Russell, the president and chief operating officer of Consumers Energy. "We're investing in Michigan through these ambitious programs, which will benefit the environment, help customers save energy, and create jobs. These programs support our Balanced Energy Initiative."
Consumers Energy's energy optimization plan includes details on how the utility will provide incentives to customers to help them reduce electric and natural gas usage.
Consumers Energy will adopt best practices used in other states to successfully implement energy efficiency programs in Michigan.
"Implementing this plan will provide these incentives to customers, and will have the added benefit of adding jobs in Michigan," said Russell. The energy optimization plan will apply to all residential, commercial and industrial customers of Consumers Energy. Implementation of the plan is expected to result in significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions over the life of the energy efficiency measures.
The plan proposes economic incentives for the purchase of highly efficient equipment and appliances; residential and business energy audits; and an advocacy campaign to help customers understand and choose the benefits of energy efficiency. Incentives will be provided for customer purchases of highly efficient heating and cooling systems, water heaters, appliances, lighting and other energy-efficiency measures.
Under the plan, implementation contractors retained by Consumers Energy will be hiring personnel to conduct energy audits for residential and business customers and install energy efficiency measures. Following MPSC review of the plan, Consumers Energy intends to begin launching the programs in July.
The filing also includes a plan for increasing the amount of renewable energy Consumers Energy provides to customers.
Along with all electric providers in Michigan, Consumers Energy must increase the amount of renewable energy it supplies to customers to 10 percent by 2015. About 4 percent of Consumers Energy's power supply now comes from renewable sources, including hydroelectric, wind and biomass.
Consumers Energy estimates it will need an additional 900 megawatts of renewable energy by 2017. Consumers Energy will build new renewable energy projects for about half of this, and purchase renewable energy from third-party producers to meet the other half.
Consumers Energy will primarily invest in wind generation to expand its renewable energy supply. The utility has secured more than 36,000 acres of easements in Mason and Tuscola counties for future wind generation investment.
Consumers Energy, the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy, provides natural gas and electricity to nearly 6.5 million of Michigan's 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.