Have you ever wondered how future generations will remember you? Or how the decisions made today will impact the lives of those to come?
Handing things down is the Michigander way, and at Consumers Energy, we’re no different. We’re proud of our long history serving this great state and we’re determined to create a brighter energy future for Michigan.
When we created our Clean Energy Plan, designed to lead the renewable energy revolution in Michigan, we did so with a focus to do what’s right for customers today and the generations to come.
We’ve been generating clean energy through hydroelectric dams since the turn of the 20th century. (That’s right—we were into renewables before renewables were cool!) It’s likely that your great-grandparents were enjoying the benefits of clean energy and didn’t even know it. Nearly a century later in 2012, we also began harnessing the power of wind.
Even so, renewable sources make up just a small fraction of our energy sources. Wind and hydropower alone can’t provide the capacity coal plants can.
Our Clean Energy Plan will change this by phasing out coal by 2025 (15 years earlier than our original timeline) and ramping up solar power – the first renewable generation source that can compete with fossil fuels in Michigan.
In addition to its environmental benefits, solar is increasingly cost competitive with other fuel sources. We can add solar gradually by competitively bidding solar supply to ensure we keep energy bills affordable. Solar also provides flexibility to respond to emerging needs, adapt to changing conditions, embrace innovative technology that has become more cost-competitive every year – without having to bet on building a large, new fossil fuel power plant. As solar expands around the world, there also is a large focus on what happens to the material when the panels no longer work. Good news – they can be recycled!
Our solar generation is starting small but will ramp up quickly. We plan to bring 1,100 megawatts of solar capacity online by 2024, which equates to serving about 425,000 residents. By 2040, we want around 8,000 megawatts of solar power added to Michigan’s energy system, which equates to serving over 3 million residents.
To achieve this, we expect to develop between 50 and 75 utility-scale solar projects across the state of Michigan. Our plan forecasts renewable energy capacity levels of:
• 30% by 2025
• 43% by 2030
• 61% by 2040
Making the switch without sacrificing affordability
We know it’s not possible to go 100% renewable overnight. It takes years to update our infrastructure and phase out fossil fuels. The transition outlined in our current Clean Energy Plan creates price stability and will save customers more than $600 million through 2040 compared to our current operations. How?
Establishing owned energy sources
Most of these cost savings will come from eliminating our coal plants as a fuel source, which will eliminate maintenance and operational expenses. We will then replace those plants with sources of clean energy.
Using natural gas as a fuel source to generate baseload power
We can maintain energy affordability by using natural gas as a fuel source to generate baseload power as we transition to cleaner sources. Customers will benefit from the operational flexibility of our natural gas facilities, which can ramp production up and down to match demand and market trends. The short and long-term savings will help manage costs, while the incremental and flexible approach also allows us to adapt to changes in the energy landscape as we go.
It will take time to ramp up renewable energy. In the meantime, we’re helping customers become a Force of Change in for their own homes and businesses with programs that give more control over their energy bills and make switching to clean energy easy.
You can learn more please visit our Programs and Services page, but in the meantime, we’ve detailed our most popular options below.
Home Energy Analysis (HEA)
A great way to get started on saving energy and money is understanding where you might be losing it without even knowing! With a FREE Home Energy Analysis, one of our participating contractors conducts a thorough assessment to identify the best opportunities to save money and maintain (or even improve) comfort.
With the customer’s approval and depending on service type, the contractor will install up to $50 worth of energy saving products like LED light bulbs, pipe insulation, faucet aerators, showerheads and maybe even a programmable thermostat – all at no cost to the customer! We also offer discounts on most of these energy efficient items through our online store.
Demand Response Programs
We have a few Peak Power Savers® programs that fall under the umbrella of Demand Response (DR), which reward customers for reducing their energy use during high-demand periods – just a few days a year for a few hours a day – to decrease stress on the shared, regional energy grid. This approach helps not only keep electricity more reliable, but also ensures we aren’t building generation sources that sit unused most days or paying inflated prices from the energy market.
Does it make a difference? Absolutely! When an event is activated, the impact is immediate and visible, as demonstrated by a hot day in June 2022. This event began at 2 p.m. and helped keep what customers were using from exceeding what was available in the system. A lot of small changes from many people made a big difference.
Smart Thermostat Program
With the Smart Thermostat Program, an Energy Savings Event is scheduled when forecasts indicate energy use will be higher than normal – usually due to extreme heat or cold.
Customers are typically notified at least 24 hours before the event begins. On the day of the event, participating homes and businesses are pre-cooled earlier in the day using their set comfort preferences. When the event begins, the thermostat goes into an energy saving mode that keeps the air conditioner off unless the customer adjusts it. Combined with keeping doors and windows closed, using fans and closing south and west-facing blinds, if needed, most customers maintain a comfortable temperature all day.
In addition, by using energy when prices are lower, the Smart Thermostat Program can keep bills lower and predictable. Enrolling costs almost nothing – we offer free or deeply discounted top brand thermostats through our online store – and then customers receive $25 every year they participate. Those who already have a qualifying smart thermostat can enroll and receive a $75 gift card.
AC Peak Cycling Program
When customers enroll in our AC peak cycling program, we install a switch on their outside central air conditioning unit. On select days in the summer (usually the hottest days) we’ll start a cycling event that will run the air conditioner for shorter, more infrequent periods, keeping the home comfortable while using less energy. When the event is over, the air conditioner returns to normal operations.
Through AC Peak Cycling, customers receive a $25 gift card when they sign up and an additional $8 monthly bill credit from June through September.
The Future Is Bright
Steps taken today set us on a path for a better tomorrow. Every giant oak sprouts from a tiny acorn. While those who plant it likely will never see it reach its full potential, generations to come will have the opportunity to play in its shade. With a focus on making our descendants proud, every Michigander has the power to become a Force of Change.
Learn more about our clean energy plans and the programs we have to help you take control of your energy bills.