Consumers Energy Company makes sure that the energy consumers in Michigan have the power to crank up their heaters and the gas to fire up their stoves. The company's operating area includes all 68 counties of Michigan's lower peninsula. All told, Consumers Energy has a generating capacity of 6,130 MW (primarily fossil-fueled), and distributes electricity to 1.8 million customers and natural gas to 1.7 million customers. Included in the utility's arsenal of power production is electricity generated from fossil-fueled, nuclear, and hydroelectric power plants. Consumers Energy is a subsidiary and primary operating unit of CMS Energy.
The company is being guided by its "Balanced Energy Initiative," a comprehensive 20 year plan (introduced in 2007). The plan calls for the utility to develop new power plants, increase the efficiency of its operations, and expand its renewable energy projects.
As part of its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in 2010 Consumers Energy acquired access to about 60,000 acres for the development of Lake Winds Energy Park in Mason County, Michigan, which is scheduled to begin operating in 2012. Cross Winds Energy Park in Tuscola and Huron counties is scheduled to come on stream in two phases in 2015 and 2017. (Earlier, the company spent $10 million purchasing 440 General Motors gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles as part of its ongoing vehicle fleet replacement process). It also announced plans to begin installing smart meters (advance meters that allow customer to have better control over their energy use) across its system in 2012.
As part of its balanced energy initiative, in 2009 the company received regulatory permission to develop a long-planned 830 MW coal-fired plant, in return for agreeing to retire 630-958 MW of existing coal-fired plant capacity.
To improve its bottom line and the efficiency of its operations, and in an effort to stem the tide of commercial and residential customers jumping ship for other electricity providers, Consumers Energy is looking at options to reform its rate structures.
After a difficult 2009 due to the global recession crimping demand, the company reported a jump in operting revenues and income in 2010 thanks primarily to a rate increase and surcharges.
Consumers Energy veteran David Joos served briefly as president and CEO of parent company CMS Energy in 2010, but retired in May to take the role of non-executive chairman. John G. Russell was named CMS president and CEO. Russell previously was president and CEO of Consumers Energy. – less