We’re a big company but we think local. Townships, villages and cities are the foundation of a prosperous state. They’re the building blocks of a thriving economy where people want to live and businesses want to invest.
Our area managers live, work and volunteer in your community. They are our community affairs team - company ambassadors, community advocates and facilitators. They inform, listen, volunteer, coach and facilitate. They get things done, as liaisons for the company and in our communities.
Not surprisingly, much of the work we do in your community tends to surround our business. We work with local stakeholders, like business and civic leaders, on energy-related projects and opportunities. Energy efficiency is a popular focus area. We’ve helped more than 50,000 Michigan businesses lower energy costs. We launch initiatives to revitalize urban centers. We worked with the city of Jackson to save one of the country’s grand post offices. We built our headquarters around the historic building, stimulating a dramatic downtown revival. We also work with local stakeholders to manage system upgrades, like the $225 million natural gas improvements currently underway around the state.
With the recent closing of seven coal-fired generating units in Luna Pier, Saginaw area and Muskegon, we have been keenly aware of the potential impacts to the surrounding communities. We have facilitated numerous workshops to assist community leaders in establishing transition strategies. By involving community leaders early in the process, they have been able to take ownership of the economic development plans well ahead of the actual plant closings. In addition to consulting community leaders, we go to great lengths to take Michigan businesses, universities, government, non-profits and more, into account in our ongoing sustainability strategy. That's why, in 2015, we conducted a materiality assessment to learn what mattered most to them.
You’ll also find our employees serving on local boards and chambers of commerce, coaching Little League and fundraising for schools and charities. We advocate for grants to build parks, fund community activities and protect wildlife. Our employees and the public affairs team help connect the company’s resources to meet community needs. We listen and work hard to address your needs and concerns.
We have the largest rural customer base of any utility in Michigan, serving more than 1 million people in counties with 70,000 or less population. In fact, almost one-third of the people we serve live in counties with fewer than 30,000 people. Many of these communities have limited resources for economic development. That’s why we have partnered with the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan (CEDAM) to better focus on small town Michigan
For more than 10 years we’ve sponsored CEDAM’s Small Town and Rural Development conference in Northern Michigan, to bring in speakers to share ideas on how to make rural communities more prosperous. This year we announced grants that will help small towns implement a CEDAM community assessment, so we can see where it’s best to focus our Consumers Energy Foundation dollars on creating more sustainable and prosperous communities.
We provide resources to help small towns attract and maintain businesses. Our Energy Profile program helps small towns attract businesses by providing a one-page sheet that details energy infrastructure on select parcels. We also have partnered with the Small Business Association to provide dedicated energy expertise to its members, and helped small businesses save millions with Energy Efficiency programs . Because stronger small towns add up to a stronger Michigan.